USA cut from top 20 World Happiness Report 2024

Photo source: Wealth of Geeks

By Georgia Konidari | Wealth of Geeks

For the first time since the World Happiness Report was generated in 2012, the United States has fallen out of the top 20 ranks of the state of happiness in countries around the globe.

The top 10 countries in the World Happiness Report sometimes shift positions but have largely maintained their standings over the last 12 years. In 2024, however, significant shifts arose — new nations made entries, and several countries shuffled positions in response to evolving global happiness trends — with the U.S. not rising to the challenge.

In a notable decline, the United States dropped down to number 23, a significant fall from its previous standing at 15th on the list.

US Notably Absent From List

The United States and other Western nations reported much lower happiness levels among those under 30 than those aged 60 and older.

The report highlights a discrepancy in happiness levels among younger and older generations in North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

This generational happiness gap is most evident in the U.S. and Canada, where rankings for those aged 60 and older are markedly higher than those under 30, illustrating the disconnect between the well-being of older and younger generations.

Happiness Insights of Top 20 Countries

The World Happiness Report rankings rely heavily on subjective well-being reports provided by individuals; participants’ responses to the Cantril ladder life-evaluation question form the bedrock of this analysis. These responses offer insight into perceived quality of life across varying age groups and geographical locations.

Though the report doesn’t touch on contributing factors like gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, social support, or estimated life spans, the countries leading the happiness rankings offer tourists and residents rich cultural experiences and natural beauty. Exploring these countries promotes analysis of their ability to successfully foster citizens’ well-being.

1. Finland

Finland ranks No. 1 overall, with its older population being the happiest. Finland is a nature lover’s paradise known for its stunning landscapes, mesmerizing Northern Lights, vast forests, and numerous lakes. Additionally, the country has one of the lowest Gini index values. This tool measures countries’ income distribution to determine equality or inequality. Using the same scale, the United States fares worse than all top nations, excluding Costa Rica.

2. Denmark

Denmark takes second, with elderly citizens reporting the highest happiness levels. Denmark’s charm lies in its blend of modern architecture, historical landmarks, picturesque coastal towns, and Copenhagen’s modern appeal. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Denmark’s 90 out of 100 score secures the nation as the least corrupt country worldwide.

3. Iceland

Iceland comes in third, with its youth being the happiest. The country’s breathtaking landscapes — geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, and volcanic terrain — alongside its low unemployment and sense of community contribute to its score. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index reports Iceland’s enhanced strong social cohesion and trust influence its No. 1 spot among 38 OECD countries regarding community.

4. Sweden

Sweden takes No. 4, with happiness peaking among the older population. The nation boasts scenic coastal cities, medieval towns, and the awe-inspiring Northern Lights. Like all Nordic countries — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden — Sweden is a culturally rich and happy nation with low income inequality.

5. Israel

Israel’s happy youth helps the country score its No. 5 ranking. The country offers a blend of historical and natural attractions with its ancient historical sites and beautiful beaches. Despite its higher income inequality compared to other countries on the list, Israel’s camaraderie and close family bonds promote feelings of support and happiness, ranking No. 6 in the OECD Better Life Index regarding community.

6. Netherlands

The Netherlands’ content older population contributes to its No. 6 spot. The country combines its quaint, picturesque canals, tulip fields, windmills, and cycling routes with urban life in beautiful cities like Amsterdam. According to the OECD Better Life Index, the country ranks fifth regarding its low unemployment rate.

7. Norway

Norway ranks seventh, with its elderly enjoying the highest happiness levels. Famed for its fjords, coastal beauty, and Northern Lights, it is a magnet for nature lovers. According to the World Bank, Norway has the second-highest GDP per capita among the leading 20 countries on the World Happiness Report, coupled with low income inequality according to the Gini Index.

8. Luxembourg

Young folks are particularly happy in this small country. Luxembourg is known for its medieval old town in Luxembourg City and its green landscapes. According to the World Bank, Luxembourg also has the highest GDP per capita among the top 20 countries of the World Happiness Report.

9. Switzerland

Younger Swiss citizens report higher happiness levels. The Alps and lakes offer natural beauty in the country otherwise known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. According to the World Bank, Switzerland has one of the highest GDP per capita.

10. Australia

Australia rounds out the top 10, with older individuals reporting greater happiness. Its landscapes range from the Great Barrier Reef to the Outback and cities like Sydney and Melbourne. According to the natural beauty, Australians also benefit from quality health care, high involvement in democracy, and the globe’s No. 2 education system.

11. New Zealand

New Zealand, in eleventh place, is most appreciated by its older residents. Its stunning landscapes make it a prime location for adventure and relaxation. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, New Zealand is considered one of the least corrupt countries.

12. Costa Rica

Costa Rica steals No. 12, with its rainforests, beaches, and biodiversity celebrated by its young residents. A tropical paradise for nature and wildlife enthusiasts, Costa Rica prioritizes family and community in its journey to happiness.

13. Kuwait

Kuwait and its satisfied older population rank No. 13. Attractions like the Kuwait Towers, the bustling souks, and the beautiful coastline earned the nation its position as a newcomer to the list.

14. Austria

Austria, famed for its Alpine scenery, picturesque villages, and historic cities like Vienna and Salzburg, boasts happy young residents. Alongside this distinction, Vienna has been named the most livable city in the world, according to The Economist ’s Global Liveability Index.

15. Canada

Canada shows a stark happiness contrast between ages, with older people reporting greater happiness levels. Canada offers stunning landscapes like the Rocky Mountains and Niagara Falls and lively cities like Quebec and Montreal. Canadians are happy due to their high quality of life, including quality health care, social support, and a sense of belonging.

16. Belgium

Belgium ranks No. 16, with happiness varying among age groups. Its capital, Brussels, is the European Union’s headquarters. Known for its medieval towns and Art Nouveau architecture, Belgian residents find happiness in their Social Security system and high living standards.

17. Ireland

Ireland is No. 17, with younger respondents reporting higher happiness levels. Ireland’s happiness is deeply rooted in community, ranking third regarding community among the 38 countries on the OECD Better Life Index. But its famed coastline, green hills, and historic castles don’t hurt.

18. Czechia

At No. 18, Czechia’s younger population reports higher happiness levels than other groups. Prague’s striking castles, mountains, and beer culture make Czechia a must-visit. According to the OECD Better Life Index, Czechia prioritizes social support.

19. Lithuania

Lithuania, ranking nineteenth, sees its young as the happiest. Lithuania boasts natural beauty and rich history, with historic sites such as Trakai Castle, Curonian Spit, and the capital, Vilnius. The increasing similarity in happiness levels across Europe resulted in Czechia and Lithuania securing their places among the top twenty happiest countries last year.

20. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom slides into No. 20, with its older citizens reporting higher happiness levels. The country’s historic landmarks, from London’s iconic sights to Scotland’s scenic highlands and Wales’ castles, lock its spot among the happiest countries. Canada and the United Kingdom are the only countries listed bearing populations greater than 30 million.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.