The 2024 edition of the World Happiness Report (WHR) provides an analysis of happiness trends across different ages and generations in more than 140 countries. It finds that the well-being of 15- to 24-year-olds has fallen in North America, Western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and South Asia since 2019.

Driven by a large drop in the well-being of Americans under 30, the US has fallen out of the top 20 for the first time since the report was first published in 2012.

For the seventh year in a row, Finland is the “happiest” country, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Israel. There are two new entrants in the top 20 – Costa Rica (12) and Kuwait (13). The world’s “unhappiest” nation is Afghanistan.

The report uses Gallup’s World Poll data to assign rankings to countries based on self-reported levels of national happiness. “Rankings are based on a three-year average of each population’s average assessment of their quality of life,” according to a press release. The report uses factors such as gross domestic product (GDP), life expectancy, having someone to count on, a sense of freedom, generosity, and perceptions of corruption to explain the variations across countries and over time.

In addition to national rankings, the report “provides analytics and advice for evidence-based planning and policymaking,” highlighted Gallup’s CEO Jon Clifton.

Comparing age groups, the report ranks Lithuania first for children and young people under 30. For those 60 and older, Denmark tops the list.

Comparing generations, the report finds that people born before 1965 are, on average, happier than those born since 1980. Evaluation of one’s own life among Millennials decreases with each year of age. Boomers’ life satisfaction rises as they get older.

Globally, young people aged 15 to 24 report higher life satisfaction than older adults, the report finds. However, it warns that “this gap is narrowing in Europe and recently reversed in North America.” Data availability for the well-being of children below the age of 15 is limited.

“To think that, in some parts of the world, children are already experiencing the equivalent of a mid-life crisis demands immediate policy action,” said Director of Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre Jan-Emmanuel De Neve.

The World Happiness Report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, SDSN, and the WHR’s Editorial Board. The 2024 edition was launched on 20 March 2024. [Publication: World Happiness Report 2024] [Summary] [WHR Press Release] [WHR Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on World Happiness Report 2023]