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World’s happiest country named as major nations drop out of top 20 in new league table

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There’s cause for optimism. 

For the Covid pandemic has not actually impacted global happiness, according to scientists who have quizzed thousands of people annually for more than a decade.

Despite the devastating impact of the virus, self-reported happiness remained ‘remarkably resilient’, while misery levels fell slightly during the last three years. 

Nordic countries once again dominated the World Happiness Report, with Finland being named the happiest country for the sixth year running. 

However, cheerfulness fell slightly in the UK, with the nation falling two places, while the US jumped up one place in the annual UN-sponsored index. 

Scroll down to view the full ranking list of the 137 countries involved. 

The World Happiness Report, now in its 11th year, is based on people's own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data. It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data over a three-year period

The World Happiness Report, now in its 11th year, is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data. It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data over a three-year period

Finland has been named the world's happiest country for the sixth year running, in an annual UN-sponsored index. Pictured, Helsinki, Finland

Finland has been named the world’s happiest country for the sixth year running, in an annual UN-sponsored index. Pictured, Helsinki, Finland 

Eight of the ten happiest nations were found in Europe, with Denmark scooping second place, at 7.58 points. Pictured, Copenhagen, Denmark

Eight of the ten happiest nations were found in Europe, with Denmark scooping second place, at 7.58 points. Pictured, Copenhagen, Denmark

This was followed by Iceland, Israel and the Netherlands who recorded scores of 7.53, 7.47 and 7.40 respectively. Pictured above, Akureyri in North Iceland

This was followed by Iceland, Israel and the Netherlands who recorded scores of 7.53, 7.47 and 7.40 respectively. Pictured above, Akureyri in North Iceland

Despite several overlapping global crises between 2020 and 2022, including the pandemic and war in Ukraine, most countries logged global life satisfaction scores that were just as high as those in the pre-pandemic years, the researchers found. 

Interviews with more than 100,000 people across 137 countries revealed that people self-reported significantly higher levels of benevolence — acts of kindness — than before the pandemic. 

The World Happiness Report, now in its 11th year, is based on people’s own assessment of their happiness, as well as economic and social data.

It assigns a happiness score on a scale of zero to 10, based on an average of data over a three-year period.

This year, the authors also used data from social media to compare people’s emotions before and after the Covid crisis.

Eight of the ten happiest nations were found in Europe, with Denmark scooping second place, at 7.58 points. 

It was followed by Iceland, Israel and the Netherlands who recorded scores of 7.53, 7.47 and 7.40, respectively.

The UK dropped two places on last year to sit in 19th place — with 6.80 points — behind the US, which ranked 15th happiest country in the world and Australia, which was in 12th place. 

They are followed by Canada in 13th, up two places from last year’s lowest-ever ranking. 

Lithuania is the only new country in the top twenty, rising more than 30 places since 2017, while France dropped out of the top 20, placing in 21st position.

War-scarred Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries in the survey, retaining bottom spots, with average life evaluations more than five points lower than in the ten happiest countries. 

Sierra Leone also fared poorly, falling to 135th position, ranking the third unhappiest country with 3.14 points.  

‘Average happiness and our country rankings, for emotions as well as life evaluations, have been remarkably stable during the three Covid years,’ said John Helliwell, Canadian economist and editor of the World Happiness Report.

He added: ‘Changes in rankings that have taken place have been continuations of longer-term trends, such as the increases seen in the rankings of the three Baltic countries. 

‘Even during these difficult years, positive emotions have remained twice as prevalent as negative ones, and feelings of positive social support twice as strong as those of loneliness.’ 

The study found there was a ‘significant increase’ in the number of people reporting the happiness effect of ‘having someone to count on in times of trouble’.

Globally, 80 per cent of survey respondents said they had someone to count on, which was one of the factors that boosted average life satisfaction during the pandemic years, analysts said.

War-scarred Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries in the survey, retaining bottom spots, with average life evaluations more than five points lower than in the ten happiest countries. Pictured above, Mazar-e-Sharif, provincial capital of Balkh province, Afghanistan

War-scarred Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries in the survey, retaining bottom spots, with average life evaluations more than five points lower than in the ten happiest countries. Pictured above, Mazar-e-Sharif, provincial capital of Balkh province, Afghanistan

Ukraine ranked 92nd - up six places on 2022. Pictured, a destroyed apartment building after a Russian strike in the city of Avdiivka, Donetsk, Ukraine on March 18

Ukraine ranked 92nd – up six places on 2022. Pictured, a destroyed apartment building after a Russian strike in the city of Avdiivka, Donetsk, Ukraine on March 18

Measures of misery across the world also fell slightly during the three Covid years, researchers found. 

Despite higher death tolls among elderly people, those aged over 60 on average reported improvements in their happiness relative to younger groups. 

The report also marked the first year the rankings take into account Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with Ukraine ranking 92nd — up six places on 2022.

Russia also climbed up the table, ranking in 70th, up 10 positions on the previous year. 

According to the report, both countries shared the global increases in benevolence during 2020 and 2021. 

But during 2022, benevolence grew sharply in Ukraine but fell in Russia.

Despite the magnitude of suffering and damage in Ukraine, life evaluations in September 2022 remained higher than in the aftermath of the 2014 annexation.

Analysts believe this is because Ukrainians are supported now by a stronger sense of common purpose, benevolence and trust in Ukrainian leadership.

The study is carried out by the UN-backed Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

Full rankings: The 2023 World Happiness Report
Ranking Country name Ladder score
1 Finland 7.804
2 Denmark 7.586
3 Iceland 7.530
4 Israel 7.473
5 Netherlands 7.403
6 Sweden 7.395
7 Norway 7.315
8 Switzerland 7.240
9 Luxembourg 7.228
10 New Zealand 7.123
11 Austria 7.097
12 Australia 7.095
13 Canada 6.961
14 Ireland 6.911
15 United States 6.894
16 Germany 6.892
17 Belgium 6.859
18 Czechia 6.845
19 United Kingdom 6.796
20 Lithuania 6.763
21 France 6.661
22 Slovenia 6.650
23 Costa Rica 6.609
24 Romania 6.589
25 Singapore 6.587
26 United Arab Emirates 6.571
27 Taiwan Province of China 6.535
28 Uruguay 6.494
29 Slovakia 6.469
30 Saudi Arabia 6.463
31 Estonia 6.455
32 Spain 6.436
33 Italy 6.405
34 Kosovo 6.368
35 Chile 6.334
36 Mexico 6.330
37 Malta 6.300
38 Panama 6.265
39 Poland 6.260
40 Nicaragua 6.259
41 Latvia 6.213
42 Bahrain 6.173
43 Guatemala 6.150
44 Kazakhstan 6.144
45 Serbia 6.144
46 Cyprus 6.130
47 Japan 6.129
48 Croatia 6.125
49 Brazil 6.125
50 El Salvador 6.122
51 Hungary 6.041
52 Argentina 6.024
53 Honduras 6.023
54 Uzbekistan 6.014
55 Malaysia 6.012
56 Portugal 5.968
57 South Korea 5.951
58 Greece 5.931
59 Mauritius 5.902
60 Thailand 5.843
61 Mongolia 5.840
62 Kyrgyzstan 5.825
63 Moldova 5.819
64 China 5.818
65 Vietnam 5.763
66 Paraguay 5.738
67 Montenegro 5.722
68 Jamaica 5.703
69 Bolivia 5.684
70 Russia 5.661
71 Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.633
72 Colombia 5.630
73 Dominican Republic 5.569
74 Ecuador 5.559
75 Peru 5.526
76 Philippines 5.523
77 Bulgaria 5.466
78 Nepal 5.360
79 Armenia 5.342
80 Tajikistan 5.330
81 Algeria 5.329
82 Hong Kong S.A.R. of China 5.308
83 Albania 5.277
84 Indonesia 5.277
85 South Africa 5.275
86 Congo (Brazzaville) 5.267
87 North Macedonia 5.254
88 Venezuela 5.211
89 Laos 5.111
90 Georgia 5.109
91 Guinea 5.072
92 Ukraine 5.071
93 Ivory Coast 5.053
94 Gabon 5.035
95 Nigeria 4.981
96 Cameroon 4.973
97 Mozambique 4.954
98 Iraq 4.941
99 State of Palestine 4.908
100 Morocco 4.903
101 Iran 4.876
102 Senegal 4.855
103 Mauritania 4.724
104 Burkina Faso 4.638
105 Namibia 4.631
106 Turkiye 4.614
107 Ghana 4.605
108 Pakistan 4.555
109 Niger 4.501
110 Tunisia 4.497
111 Kenya 4.487
112 Sri Lanka 4.442
113 Uganda 4.432
114 Chad 4.397
115 Cambodia 4.393
116 Benin 4.374
117 Myanmar 4.372
118 Bangladesh 4.282
119 Gambia 4.279
120 Mali 4.198
121 Egypt 4.170
122 Togo 4.137
123 Jordan 4.120
124 Ethiopia 4.091
125 Liberia 4.042
126 India 4.036
127 Madagascar 4.019
128 Zambia 3.982
129 Tanzania 3.694
130 Comoros 3.545
131 Malawi 3.495
132 Botswana 3.435
133 Congo (Kinshasa) 3.207
134 Zimbabwe 3.204
135 Sierra Leone 3.138
136 Lebanon 2.392
137 Afghanistan 1.859

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