The latest World Happiness Report has just been released, ranking the happiest countries in the world, based on factors like income, social support, and freedom to make life choices.

While the top ten countries remain largely unchanged, there has been much more action in the top 20. So, what can we learn from the list?

Costa Rica, Kuwait, Lithuania and Czechia are four new entries to the top 20, while the US and Germany have dropped out of it; from 15 and 16, to 23 and 24, respectively. This is the first time that the US doesn’t rank in the top 20 since the World Happiness Report was first released 12 years ago. The UK clings on in 20th place, having fallen from position 17 in the last report, of 2021.

Nordic countries continue to dominate the top spots. Few countries with large populations feature at the top, with only two countries in the top 10 (the Netherlands and Australia) having populations of over 15 million.

In the whole of the top 20, only the UK and Canada have populations over 30 million.

Here are the happiest 20 countries in the world, according to the 2024 World Happiness Report:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Israel
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland
  10. Australia
  11. New Zealand
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Kuwait
  14. Austria
  15. Canada
  16. Belgium
  17. Ireland
  18. Czechia
  19. Lithuania
  20. United Kingdom

Nordic countries continue to top the list. So, what can we learn from them?

Many Nordic countries, including Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, consistently rank among the top countries for happiness. These countries are known for their strong social welfare systems, high levels of trust, and overall quality of life.

Common among them is the high value placed on leisure time, family life, and personal wellbeing. Policies such as flexible working hours, generous parental leave, and paid vacation time enable individuals to prioritise their personal lives and spend time with family and friends, contributing to overall happiness and life satisfaction.

Nordic countries are also known for their commitment to equality, social justice, and inclusivity, as well as having a strong connection to nature and the environment. With easy access to outdoor recreation, many citizens keep active through hiking, skiing, and cycling. Several of these countries also boast quality education and healthcare, ensuring that all citizens have access to essential services, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Scandinavian countries consistently rank high in work-life balance indices, and it’s clear their workplace practices contribute in a significant way to overall wellbeing.

ITN Business will showcase how HR professionals can develop strategies for employment wellbeing, in ‘The Future of Work: People, Culture and Tech’. Learn more.

About The World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR’s Editorial Board. It reflects a worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and wellbeing as criteria for government policy. Life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll provide the basis for the annual happiness rankings.

 Here are six factors that the report’s data incorporates, which impact people’s levels of happiness.

  • GDP per capita: This is how much a country produces divided by its population.
  • Social support: This is the best predictor of happiness. If people feel like they have at least one person they can reach out to when they’re in need, they are more likely to feel secure.
  • A healthy life expectancy: The researchers look at the physical and mental health of a country’s population.
  • Freedom to make life choices: This plays a key role in how happy one feels.
  • Generosity: This factor looks at how charitable a country’s people are.
  • Perception of corruption: How corrupt are a country’s government and business policies? This factor looks at both and researchers use what they find to estimate happiness levels.

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To highlight the health and wellbeing of the next generation, and showcase how we can enable them to flourish, Prioritising Children’s Health will explore the solutions aiding children’s health, providing them with the best possible start in life.

There are commercial opportunities for leading organisations at the forefront of children’s health to be featured in the programme and spearhead their own news item. If your organisation wants to be part of this important conversation, contact ITN Business’ Head of Healthcare Programming Georgia Gerstein or Programming Director Jamie Connolly.