US Falls Out of Top 20 Happiest Countries for the First Time


The latest World Happiness Report has delivered some grim news for the US: for the first time since the index began, the country is not ranked among the top 20 happiest countries.

The happiness levels of young Americans, in particular, have plummeted sharply since 2010.

Nordic Countries Continue to Lead

Despite this, some things remain unchanged.

Finland has once again been named the world’s happiest country, holding the top spot for the seventh consecutive year.

Other Nordic countries, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland, also secured places in the top 10.

US Ranking Declines

The US fell from 15th place last year to 23rd this year, marking its first exclusion from the top 20 in the report’s 12-year history.

Top 20 Happiest Countries

  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

Newcomers and Notable Changes

The only newcomer to the top 20 is Lithuania.

Additionally, several former-Soviet states, such as Serbia (37th) and Bulgaria (81st), have seen significant increases in their happiness scores since 2013.

Countries with Lowest Happiness Levels

Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the list, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Lebanon rounding out the lowest-ranked countries.

Declining Happiness Among Young People

One troubling finding of the report is the declining happiness among young people in certain regions, including North America, Western Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

While global happiness levels for youngsters have generally increased, North American youth, aged 15 to 24, have reported lower life satisfaction than older people, a trend that is now emerging in Western Europe as well.

Expert Insights

Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, a Belgian economist at the University of Oxford and an editor of the World Happiness Report, commented on these findings:

“To think that, in some parts of the world, children are already experiencing the equivalent of a mid-life crisis demands immediate policy action.”

Contributing Factors

This isn’t the first time research has highlighted declining happiness among young adults and teenagers in North America and Europe.

While there are no definitive answers, factors such as economic uncertainty, poor job prospects, political polarization, lack of meaningful social connections, and the rise of technology are often cited as contributing to this trend.