Ranked: happiest countries in the world 2022

Finland tops the rankings of the happiest countries in the world for the fifth year running

Happiness is a nebulous thing; hard to grasp and harder to hold onto. Scientists, economists and philosophers have defined it through the ages as a combination of different things, among them health, wealth, companionship and security.

Ever since 2011, when the United Nations (UN) adopted the Bhutan-sponsored Resolution 65/309, Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development, governments have worked to give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.

The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan
S_jakkarin/Shutterstock Bhutan pioneered recognising happiness and well-being

As such, various indices attempt to rank the happiest countries in the world on an annual basis. Now in its 10th year, the World Happiness Report from the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is particularly interesting as it ranks 146 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.

“A decade ago, governments around the world expressed the desire to put happiness at the heart of the global development agenda, and they adopted a UN General Assembly resolution for that purpose. The World Happiness Report grew out of that worldwide determination to find the path to greater global well-being. Now, at a time of pandemic and war, we need such an effort more than ever. And the lesson of the World Happiness Report over the years is that social support, generosity to one another, and honesty in government are crucial for well-being. World leaders should take heed. Politics should be directed as the great sages long ago insisted: to the well-being of the people, not the power of the rulers.”

Jeffrey Sachs, World Happiness Report

The SDSN employs an international group of economists, neuroscientists and statisticians to survey citizens on their subjective wellbeing to produce a comprehensive annual list of the happiest countries in the world.

Assessing happiness

SDSN highlights that its rankings are not an index like the longer running Human Development Index (HDI) and more recent Happy Planet Index (HPI). These are often influenced by private sponsors and only partly draw on self-assessment – or make no use of it at all.

SDSN emphasises that its findings draw heavily on data from population samples in each country, using a life evaluation survey to produce subjective wellbeing data.

The report principally relies on asking a straightforward, subjective question of more than 1,000 people in each country:

“Imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top.

The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

World Happiness Report

That is not to say the report is without a scientific basis. Economic and social factors are considered along with the survey (namely GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption), but the focus is on how happy citizens say they are; not how happy statisticians think they should be.

For the first time, the report also used data from social media to compare people’s emotions before and after the Covid-19 pandemic. They found “strong increases in anxiety and sadness” in 18 countries but a fall in feelings of anger.

10 happiest countries

Once again, Finland is named the happiest country in the world. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are countries that have consistently ranked among the happiest.

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Netherlands
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Israel
  10. New Zealand
A northern lights scene from Finland – the happiest country in the world 2022
DENIS BELITSKY/SHUTTERSTOCK Finland remains the world’s happiest country

10 unhappiest countries

At the other end of the table, war-scarred Afghanistan remains last, as its humanitarian crisis deepened since the Taliban returned to power in 2021.

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Lebanon
  3. Zimbabwe
  4. Rwanda
  5. Botswana
  6. Lesotho
  7. Sierra Leone
  8. Tanzania
  9. Malawi
  10. Zambia
A mountain scene from Romania – one of the most improved in this year's happiest countries index
Roberto Sorin/Shutterstock Romania recorded one of the biggest improvements in wellbeing

The geography of happiness

Unsurprisingly, there is a strong correlation between unhappiness and the world’s poorest and most dangerous countries. Eight of the 10 unhappiest nations are in Africa with the other two, Afghanistan and Lebanon, embroiled in conflict. This year’s report was compiled before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Eight of the 10 happiest countries are European nations with only Israel and New Zealand from outside Europe. The UK remains in 17th, while the USA is ranked 16th, up three places from last year and the highest-placed country in the Americas. France climbed to 20th, its highest position yet. Australia is 12th.

The highest-ranked country in the Middle East is Bahrain (21) with Taiwan (26) and Singapore (27) the happiest countries in Asia. Costa Rica (23) is the happiest in Latin America with Uruguay (30) the highest-placed in South America. Mauritius (52) is the happiest African nation in the index.

Bulgaria (85), Romania (28) and Serbia (43) recorded the biggest improvements in wellbeing scores, while Lebanon (145), Venezuela (108) and Afghanistan (146) recorded the largest declines in their scores.

Happiest countries in the world 2022 – complete rankings

The World Happiness Report compiles data from the last three years of available surveys. The overall happiness scores are calculated from the average of the six factors mentioned above.

Rank Country Score
1 Finland 7.821
2 Denmark 7.636
3 Iceland 7.557
4 Switzerland 7.512
5 Netherlands 7.415
6 Luxembourg* 7.404
7 Sweden 7.384
8 Norway 7.365
9 Israel 7.364
10 New Zealand 7.200
11 Austria 7.163
12 Australia 7.162
13 Ireland 7.041
14 Germany 7.034
15 Canada 7.025
16 USA 6.977
17 UK 6.943
18 Czechia 6.920
19 Belgium 6.805
20 France 6.687
21 Bahrain 6.647
22 Slovenia 6.630
23 Costa Rica 6.582
24 UAE 6.576
25 Saudi Arabia 6.523
26 Taiwan 6.512
27 Singapore 6.480
28 Romania 6.477
29 Spain 6.476
30 Uruguay 6.474
31 Italy 6.467
32 Kosovo 6.455
33 Malta 6.447
34 Lithuania 6.446
35 Slovakia 6.391
36 Estonia 6.341
37 Panama 6.309
38 Brazil 6.293
39 Guatemala* 6.262
40 Kazakhstan 6.234
41 Cyprus 6.221
42 Latvia 6.180
43 Serbia 6.178
44 Chile 6.172
45 Nicaragua 6.165
46 Mexico 6.128
47 Croatia 6.125
48 Poland 6.123
49 El Salvador 6.120
50 Kuwait* 6.106
51 Hungary 6.086
52 Mauritius 6.071
53 Uzbekistan 6.063
54 Japan 6.039
55 Honduras 6.022
56 Portugal 6.016
57 Argentina 5.967
58 Greece 5.948
59 South Korea 5.935
60 Philippines 5.904
61 Thailand 5.891
62 Moldova 5.857
63 Jamaica 5.850
64 Kyrgyzstan 5.828
65 Belarus* 5.821
66 Colombia 5.781
67 Bosnia and Herz. 5.768
68 Mongolia 5.761
69 Dominican Republic 5.737
70 Malaysia 5.711
71 Bolivia 5.600
72 China 5.585
73 Paraguay 5.578
74 Peru 5.559
75 Montenegro 5.547
76 Ecuador 5.533
77 Vietnam 5.485
78 Turkmenistan* 5.474
79 North Cyprus* 5.467
80 Russia 5.459
81 Hong Kong (SAR) 5.425
82 Armenia 5.399
83 Tajikistan 5.377
84 Nepal 5.377
85 Bulgaria 5.371
86 Libya* 5.330
87 Indonesia 5.240
88 Ivory Coast 5.235
89 North Macedonia 5.199
90 Albania 5.199
91 South Africa 5.194
92 Azerbaijan* 5.173
93 Gambia* 5.164
94 Bangladesh 5.155
95 Laos 5.140
96 Algeria 5.122
97 Liberia* 5.122
98 Ukraine 5.084
99 Congo 5.075
100 Morocco 5.060
101 Mozambique 5.048
102 Cameroon 5.048
103 Senegal 5.046
104 Niger* 5.003
105 Georgia 4.973
106 Gabon 4.958
107 Iraq 4.941
108 Venezuela 4.925
109 Guinea 4.891
110 Iran 4.888
111 Ghana 4.872
112 Turkey 4.744
113 Burkina Faso 4.670
114 Cambodia 4.640
115 Benin 4.623
116 Comoros* 4.609
117 Uganda 4.603
118 Nigeria 4.552
119 Kenya 4.543
120 Tunisia 4.516
121 Pakistan 4.516
122 Palestinian Territories* 4.483
123 Mali 4.479
124 Namibia 4.459
125 Eswatini (Swaziland)* 4.396
126 Myanmar 4.394
127 Sri Lanka 4.362
128 Madagascar* 4.339
129 Egypt 4.288
130 Chad* 4.251
131 Ethiopia 4.241
132 Yemen* 4.197
133 Mauritania* 4.153
134 Jordan 4.152
135 Togo 4.112
136 India 3.777
137 Zambia 3.760
138 Malawi 3.750
139 Tanzania 3.702
140 Sierra Leone 3.574
141 Lesotho* 3.512
142 Botswana* 3.471
143 Rwanda* 3.268
144 Zimbabwe 2.995
145 Lebanon 2.955
146 Afghanistan 2.404

Countries that do not have data from 2020 or 2021. Their averages are based on the 2019 report.

The latest report was compiled before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Top 10 happiest cities

In 2020, the report ranked individual cities by residents’ perception of their own well-being. Unsurprisingly, Finland’s capital Helsinki was in first place.

  1. Helsinki, Finland
  2. Aarhus, Denmark
  3. Wellington, New Zealand
  4. Zurich, Switzerland
  5. Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. Bergen, Norway
  7. Oslo, Norway
  8. Tel Aviv, Israel
  9. Stockholm, Sweden
  10. Brisbane, Australia

► View the complete 2020 city rankings here.


Enjoyed this post? pin it for later…

happiest countries Pinterest pin

Lead image: Dreamstime

Article similaire

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée.