Mental Health

Charted: The happiest countries in the world

Finland has again topped the list of the happiest countries in the world according to the World Happiness Report rankings.

Finland has again topped the list of the happiest countries in the world according to the World Happiness Report rankings. Image: Pexels/Rosemary Ketchum

Anna Fleck
Data Journalist, Statista
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  • Finland has topped the World Happiness Report rankings for the sixth year running.
  • It is a long way ahead of its nearest rivals, fellow Nordic countries Denmark and Iceland
  • The 2023 World Happiness Ranking scores were determined using a three-year average from 2020-22, but there have been some critics of its methodology.
  • Latin American countries would have been considered the happiest if the index was based on the amount of positive emotion people experience, rather than on GDP and other factors, one writer has pointed out.

Finland leads the ranking of the world's happiest countries for the sixth year in a row, according to the 2023 World Happiness Report. While its score (7.80) is significantly ahead of all other countries, a sizeable chunk of the top ten roundup are also Nordic, with Denmark in second place (7.59), Iceland in third (7.53), Sweden in sixth (7.40) and Norway in seventh (7.32).

Slightly further down the ranking stand the United States in 15th place and the United Kingdom in 19th, with the latter having now dropped positions for four years in a row. At the bottom of the World Happiness Ranking are Zimbabwe (3.20), Sierra Leone (3.14), Lebanon (2.39) and Afghanistan (1.86).

Critics argue that the index is problematic for several reasons. For one, the terminology of “happiness” is disputed by some who would argue that in the case of Finland at least, “satisfaction with their lives” would have been a more accurate summary. In a 2018 paper on the topic, one Finnish writer pointed out that where Nordic countries came out on top for factors like GDP per capita and freedom from oppression, Latin American countries such as Paraguay and Guatemala would have been considered the happiest if the index was based on the amount of positive emotion people experience, while African countries including Togo and Senegal would have ranked higher when based on whether citizens experience their lives as “meaningful.”

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Beyond GDP: read the full transcript here

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s political commentator Marwan Bishara questions a methodology that places Israel in the top ten countries despite the ongoing conflict, and Bahrain fairly high up the list despite “tight and political control.”

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Happiest Countries in the World - 2023 Edition

The 2023 World Happiness Ranking scores were determined using a three year average from 2020-22. Despite Covid, the war in Ukraine, hikes in energy prices and living costs, figures remained fairly similar to before the pandemic in many countries, with many citizens even reporting higher levels of acts of kindness.

The Happiest Countries in the World as per the World Happiness Report, 2023.
The Happiest Countries in the World as per the World Happiness Report, 2023. Image: Statista.
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