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
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
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
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.
|Ranking||Country name||Ladder score|
|26||United Arab Emirates||6.571|
|27||Taiwan Province of China||6.535|
|71||Bosnia and Herzegovina||5.633|
|82||Hong Kong S.A.R. of China||5.308|
|99||State of Palestine||4.908|