World View

USA Climbs Higher On 2023 List Of World's Happiest Countries

But the U.S. isn’t even close to the top 10 — at least for now.

happy family with two children walking on pedestrian bridge in city park.

Finland remains at the top of the happiest counties in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. For the sixth year in a row, the Nordic country landed in first place in the report, the annual look by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. So why are the Finns so dang happy? And how are the rest of us doing?

The World Happiness Report is an annual survey that assesses how happy people are across the world and what makes them so happy. Factoring in things like physical and mental health, income, generosity, corruption levels, and freedom to live without discrimination, the report uses life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll, which asks these questions to a representative sample of adults from each country. From there, the data is evaluated and presented in a report written by a group of experts from several global universities.

Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have been long-standing entrants in the top 10, and this year's report is no different. This year, according to the report, the countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic secured them at the top of the list.

“The Nordic countries merit special attention in light of their generally high levels of both personal and institutional trust,” the authors of the report write. “They also had COVID-19 death rates only one-third as high as elsewhere in Western Europe during 2020 and 2021—27 per 100,000 in the Nordic countries compared to 80 in the rest of Western Europe.”

How did the rest of the world rank?

The Top 20 Happiest Countries In The World

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Israel
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Norway
  8. Switzerland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Canada
  14. Ireland
  15. United States
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Czechia
  19. United Kingdom
  20. Lithuania
World Happiness Report 2023 bar chart of countries' happiness

This year, the United States climbed up one spot from the previous report, landing comfortably at #15. The country’s ranking has risen over the past few years; in 2022, the United States was ranked #16, and the year before #19, which is interesting given the timeframe of the pandemic. And there are some interesting takeaways in this year’s report on how the pandemic framed the happiness of people.

The report found that happiness this year came from adversity; more specifically, that people knew there were others there for them when they were in trouble.

In the report, “benevolence” levels were elevated again this year, measured by money donated to charitable causes, volunteer time, and helping strangers — generally being nice to people.

“This year’s report features many interesting insights,” said Lara Aknin, one of the report's authors, “but one that I find particularly interesting and heartening has to do with pro-sociality. For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity, and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels. Acts of kindness have been shown to both lead to and stem from greater happiness.”

To read the full report, check out the World Happiness Report.