World Happiness Report 2024

12 April 2024

According to the World Happiness Report 2024 published by Gallup, the top 10 happiest countries as measured by life satisfaction have remained much the same since before COVID-19. 

Nordic countries continue to hold the top positions of the list, with Finland, Denmark and Iceland leading the way. In the top twenty, new entries of Costa Rica and Kuwait are matched by the departures of the United States and Germany (dropping from 15th and 16th last year to 23rd and 24th this year) together with the transition countries of Eastern Europe rising in happiness. Italy ranks 41st, between Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia.  

Unfortunately, there remains a large gap between the top and bottom countries, a full six points (on the 0 to 10 scale) between Finland at the top and Afghanistan at the bottom.  

These rankings vary by age group, but why? 

This is the first time that the authors have had sufficient data to analyse results by age, finding disparities between younger and older generations. 

In many  regions, the young (under 30) are happier than the older adults (over 60), mainly in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America. In contrast, in North America, young people currently have lower levels of happiness than the elderly. Specifically, Lithuania tops the list for children and young people, while Denmark is the world’s happiest nation for the elderly. 

Interesting is the fact that countries with a higher proportion of elderly  tend to have high overall ranking but several have recently seen low performance among young people. 

To better understand differences in happiness at different ages, it is important to consider the four age groups: under 30, 30-44, 45-59, and 60+. Generally, happier countries tend to have happy populations across all age groups, while less happy countries show low happiness levels across age groups.  

Trends for happiness in different age groups all over the world show that there have been stable levels of happiness in recent years, and a slight gender difference favouring females. Among the under-30 group, average life evaluations drop significantly with age. Instead, within the global sample of those over 60, we find life evaluations rising with age.  

Before and after  

Considering the population as a whole, there have been changes in happiness from 2006-2010 to 2021-2023. Happiness has generally increased for all age groups in East Asia, Central and Eastern Europe and fallen in South Asia, in the Middle East and North Africa. In Western Europe, life evaluations among the young are significantly lower in 2021-2023 than they were in 2006-2010, with a lesser drop in lower middle age and a small increase for those over 60.

Source: The World Happiness Report

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