Happiest countries in the world 2019

The happiest countries in the world 2019 have been ranked in the latest World Happiness Report. This year, Finland holds on to the top spot.

Happiness is a nebulous thing; hard to grasp and harder to hold onto. Scientists, economists and philosophers have defined it through the ages as a combination of different things, among them health, wealth, companionship and security.

Various indices attempt to rank the happiest countries in the world on an annual basis. The World Happiness Report from the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is particularly interesting as it ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.

The SDSN employs an international group of economists, neuroscientists and statisticians to survey citizens on their subjective wellbeing to produce a comprehensive annual list of the happiest countries in the world.

How do we assess happiness?

SDSN highlights that its rankings are not an index like the longer running Human Development Index (HDI) and more recent Happy Planet Index (HPI). These are often influenced by sponsors and draw only partly on self-assessment – or make no use of it at all.

SDSN stresses that its findings draw heavily on data from population samples in each country, using a life evaluation survey to produce subjective wellbeing data.

The report principally relies on asking a straightforward, subjective question of more than 1,000 people in more than 150 countries:

Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top.

The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?

That is not to say the report is without a scientific basis. Economic and social influences are considered along with the survey (namely GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption), but the focus is on how happy citizens say they are; not how happy statisticians think they should be.

The geography of happiness

Finland takes the top spot once again as the happiest country in the world. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are countries that have consistently ranked among the happiest. They are in order: Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria.

The UK is ranked 16th, gaining three spots from 19th last year, while the US is ranked 19th, dropping one spot from last year.

Scandinavia is home to some of happiest countries in the world
Atlas & Boots/Chartsbin Scandinavia is home to some of happiest countries in the world

The troubled African state of South Sudan is ranked the least happiest country in the world. The rest of the bottom five comprise Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Unsurprisingly, there is a strong correlation between unhappiness and the poorest and most dangerous countries.

Other key headlines include:

Australia has dropped out of the top 10 happiest countries in the world and now sits as position 11. Austria has gained two spots to take its place.

The 10 countries with the largest declines typically suffered some combination of economic, political and social stresses. The five largest drops since 2005-2008 were in Yemen, India, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela.

When you factor in population growth, world happiness has fallen in recent years, driven by the sustained downward trend in India (133 last year and 140 this year).

Benin was ranked fourth from last in the first World Happiness Report and has since risen 50 places, making it the biggest gainer overall.

There are no superpowers in the top 10 happiest countries in the world indicating that a country’s economic strength does not always correlate with the happiness of its citizens.

Happiest countries in the world 2019 – ranked

RankCountryScore
1Finland7.769
2Denmark7.600
3Norway7.554
4Iceland7.494
5Netherlands7.488
6Switzerland7.480
7Sweden7.343
8New Zealand7.307
9Canada7.278
10Austria7.246
11Australia7.228
12Costa Rica7.167
13Israel7.139
14Luxembourg7.090
15United Kingdom7.054
16Ireland7.021
17Germany6.985
18Belgium6.923
19United States6.892
20Czech Republic6.852
21United Arab Emirates6.825
22Malta6.726
23Mexico6.595
24France6.592
25Taiwan Province of China6.446
26Chile6.444
27Guatemala6.436
28Saudi Arabia6.375
29Qatar6.374
30Spain6.354
31Panama6.321
32Brazil6.300
33Uruguay6.293
34Singapore6.262
35El Salvador6.253
36Italy6.223
37Bahrain6.199
38Slovakia6.198
39Trinidad and Tobago6.192
40Poland6.182
41Uzbekistan6.174
42Lithuania6.149
43Colombia6.125
44Slovenia6.118
45Nicaragua6.105
46Kosovo6.100
47Argentina6.086
48Romania6.070
49Cyprus6.046
50Ecuador6.028
51Kuwait6.021
52Thailand6.008
53Latvia5.940
54South Korea5.895
55Estonia5.893
56Jamaica5.890
57Mauritius5.888
58Japan5.886
59Honduras5.86
60Kazakhstan5.809
61Bolivia5.779
62Hungary5.758
63Paraguay5.743
64North Cyprus5.718
65Peru5.697
66Portugal5.693
67Pakistan5.653
68Russia5.648
69Philippines5.631
70Serbia5.603
71Moldova5.529
72Libya5.525
73Montenegro5.523
74Tajikistan5.467
75Croatia5.432
76Hong Kong S.A.R. of China5.430
77Dominican Republic5.425
78Bosnia and Herzegovina5.386
79Turkey5.373
80Malaysia5.339
81Belarus5.323
82Greece5.287
83Mongolia5.285
84Macedonia5.274
85Nigeria5.265
86Kyrgyzstan5.261
87Turkmenistan5.247
88Algeria5.211
89Morocco5.208
90Azerbaijan5.208
91Lebanon5.197
92Indonesia5.192
93China5.191
94Vietnam5.175
95Bhutan5.082
96Cameroon5.044
97Bulgaria5.011
98Ghana4.996
99Ivory Coast4.944
100Nepal4.913
101Jordan4.906
102Benin4.883
103Congo (Brazzaville)4.812
104Gabon4.799
105Laos4.796
106South Africa4.722
107Albania4.719
108Venezuela4.707
109Cambodia4.700
110Palestinian Territories4.696
111Senegal4.681
112Somalia4.668
113Namibia4.639
114Niger4.628
115Burkina Faso4.587
116Armenia4.559
117Iran4.548
118Guinea4.534
119Georgia4.519
120Gambia4.516
121Kenya4.509
122Mauritania4.490
123Mozambique4.466
124Tunisia4.461
125Bangladesh4.456
126Iraq4.437
127Congo (Kinshasa)4.418
128Mali4.390
129Sierra Leone4.374
130Sri Lanka4.366
131Myanmar4.360
132Chad4.350
133Ukraine4.332
134Ethiopia4.286
135Swaziland4.212
136Uganda4.189
137Egypt4.166
138Zambia4.107
139Togo4.085
140India4.015
141Liberia3.975
142Comoros3.973
143Madagascar3.933
144Lesotho3.802
145Burundi3.775
146Zimbabwe3.663
147Haiti3.597
148Botswana3.488
149Syria3.462
150Malawi3.410
151Yemen3.380
152Rwanda3.334
153Tanzania3.231
154Afghanistan3.203
155Central African Republic3.083
156South Sudan2.853
Lead image: Denis Belitsky/Shutterstock

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