The World Happiness Report finds again the Nordic countries with the highest scores. The No. 1 country, Finland, has held onto its top ranking for seven years straight.

The report draws on global survey data from people in more than 140 countries. Countries are ranked on happiness based on their average life evaluations over the three preceding years, in this case 2021 to 2023. The report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and an editorial board.

The survey asks each participant to score their life as a whole, considering what they value, said John Helliwell, emeritus professor of economics at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia, and a founding editor of the World Happiness Report.

The report looks at six key variables to help explain life evaluations: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity and perceptions of corruption.

Given the war with Hamas, Israel may come as a surprise at No. 5, although the country has been in the top 10 since 2022. The report’s authors point out that its rankings are based on a three-year average, which often mutes the effect of “cataclysmic events happening during a particular year.”

And the timing of the survey obviously plays a role when there’s a crisis. The survey in Israel was conducted after the Hamas attack on October 7, but before much of the ensuing warfare. So while life evaluations fell sharply, those scores only accounted for a third of the average.

The United States (No. 23) and Germany (No. 24) dropped out of the top 20 in part because of a rise in happiness among other countries — especially Czechia (No. 18), Lithuania (No. 19) and Slovenia (No. 21). The United Kingdom was No. 20.

World’s 20 happiest countries in 2024

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Israel
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland
  10. Australia
  11. New Zealand
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Kuwait
  14. Austria
  15. Canada
  16. Belgium
  17. Ireland
  18. Czechia
  19. Lithuania
  20. United Kingdom

At the bottom of the list Afghanistan remains the world’s lowest-ranked country for happiness. Lebanon, Lesotho, Sierra Leone and Congo also ranked at the bottom.

Photo: Dana Friedlander for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism