The world’s happiest countries in 2024: Kuwait smiles into the global top 20

Finland takes the crown for the seventh consecutive year and Afghanistan remains the unhappiest nation

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Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the seventh consecutive year in the annual ranking of the world’s happiest countries.

The UN-sponsored index was published on Wednesday to mark the UN’s International Day of Happiness.

It ranked Kuwait as the happiest country in the Gulf region, with the country being listed as the 13th happiest place globally. It's the country's first entry into the global top 20 and a huge jump for the Gulf nation which ranked 50th in the world last year.

In the UAE, people remain relatively happy, with the Emirates moving up to 22nd position from 26 last year.

Israel, which has been waging war on Palestine since October last year, ranks as the world's fifth happiest country while Palestine was at number 103. The report states that the survey in Israel was taken “after the hostage taking, but before much of the subsequent warfare”.

In Palestine, the survey “took place earlier in the year”, before Israel's bombardment.

At the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan remains in last position as the unhappiest country, followed closely by Lebanon.

The happiest countries in the world

  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. Czech Republic
  19. Lithuania
  20. United Kingdom

The report uses global survey data to report on people’s assessment of their own happiness, as well as economic and social data from more than 150 countries worldwide. It spans a period of three years, from 2021 to 2023.

Scores are given on a scale of zero to 10, and findings are based on data gathered over a three-year period.

Which are the Gulf's happiest countries?

  1. Kuwait
  2. UAE
  3. Saudi Arabia
  4. Bahrain

Both Oman and Qatar are absent from the 2024 report.

Elsewhere, Costa Rica joined Kuwait in making it into the top 20. The Philippines ranked 53rd in the world, proving that it is now a happier nation than it was in 2023 when it ranked 60th. Happiness levels in India and Pakistan remained on track, with the nations ranking at 126 and 108, respectively, the same as last year.

People in the UK are the 20th happiest in the world according to this year's survey, slipping one slot since last year. In the US, happiness levels have taken a nosedive with the country falling to 23 position, its lowest ranking since the report was first published.

Serbia and Bulgaria have seen their biggest increases since the report was first published, climbing up the rankings in the 2024 index to 37th and 81st position.

Does happiness come with age?

This year’s report is the first to include separate rankings by age group and it reveals large discrepancies in happiness levels by age, with young people much less satisfied than older respondents globally, but not in the Middle East and North Africa Region.

“We found some pretty striking results,” said John Helliwell, founding editor of the World Happiness Report. “There is a great variety among countries in the relative happiness of the younger, older, and in-between populations. Hence the global happiness rankings are quite different for the young and the old, to an extent that has changed a lot over the last dozen years.”

Lithuania tops the list for children and young people under 30, while Denmark is the world’s happiest nation for those 60 and older.

For most Mena countries, happiness is higher among young people, especially for young females in the region. This tapers off after 24, but rises again when women reach the age of 60. This was not reflected in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where happiness levels were on average lower with younger people than across the rest of the region.

People between the ages of 15 and 24 in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia were some of the unhappiest respondents in the 2024 survey.

Updated: March 20, 2024, 5:54 PM