World Happiness Report 2023
17 May 2023
The World Happiness Report 2023 (WHR) measures the average level of happiness in all countries across the world.
Happiness is measured as a subjective estimate of life satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10. The WHR also uses objective data on health, socio-economic and political status of countries to investigate how factors specific to countries and populations influence happiness levels. Overall, the vision of WHR is to allow policy-makers and organisations to develop policies that support wellbeing and minimize misery, by providing evidence to inform and support their decision.
What countries are the happiest?
Nordic European countries are the happiest; Afghanistan and Lebanon are the least happy.
Why countries differ in happiness levels? What makes countries more or less happy?
There are material, institutional and ethological factors that help explaining the different levels of happiness across counties. These are:
- GDP per capita: higher GDP, higher happiness
- Social support: having someone to rely on is an important contributor to happiness
- Healthy life expectancy at birth: longer healthy life expectancy is related to higher happiness
- Freedom to make life choices: people who are more satisfied with their freedom to choose what to do in their lives are happier
- Generosity: countries where people donate more money to charities (proportional to GDP) are happier
- Perception of corruption: people who perceive their government and businesses to be least corrupt are happier
- Positive affect: countries where people experience laughter, enjoyment and interest regularly are happier
These 7 factors explain more than 78% of variability in happiness levels across countries since 2005, meaning that differences in GDP, social support, freedom, etc, explain a large proportion of the differences in happiness across countries.
Altruism and happiness
There is a positive relationship between happiness and altruistic behaviours. People who receive altruistic help will experience improved well-being. There is evidence that helping behaviour increases the well-being of the individual helper. Evidence also shows that when people’s well-being increases, they can become more altruistic.
How are states and governments responsible for people’s happiness?
The effectiveness of the government has a major influence on people’s happiness
The capacity of a state can be measured by:
- its fiscal capacity (ability to raise money)
- its collective capacity (ability to deliver services)
- its legal capacity (rule of law)
- the avoidance of civil war
- the avoidance of repression
Across countries, all these 5 measures are well-correlated with the average life satisfaction of the people.
State effectiveness may favour the conditions to develop policies that support populations happiness and well-being.