The next World Happiness Report will be published on 20 March 2018.

The current World Happiness Report ranks 155 countries by their happiness levels and was published on 20 March 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.


Headlines FOR 2017

* Norway tops the global happiness rankings

* Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland & Finland complete the top 5

* Happiness is both social and personal

* People in China are no happier than 25 years ago

* Happiness has fallen in America

The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people – their well-being. This report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact
— Jeffrey Sachs

Norway tops the global happiness rankings for 2017

Norway has jumped from 4th place in 2016 to 1st place this year, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tightly packed bunch. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.


Happiness is both social and personal

This year’s report emphasises the importance of the social foundations of happiness. This can be seen by comparing the life experiences between the top and bottom ten countries. There is major happiness gap between the two groups of countries, of which three-quarters is explained by the six variables, half due to differences in having someone to count on, generosity, a sense of freedom, and freedom from corruption. The other half of the explained difference is attributed to GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy, both of which also depend importantly on the social context.

In rich countries the biggest single cause of misery is mental illness
— Professor Richard Layard

People in China are no happier than 25 years ago

Analysis from Richard A. Easterlin, who pioneered the economics of happiness more than 40 years ago, contrasts the sharply growing per capita income in China over the past 25 years with life evaluations that fell steadily from 1990 till about 2005, recovering since then to about the 1990 levels. The falls in happiness in the first part of this period are attributed to rising unemployment and fraying social safety nets.


Happiness has fallen in America

The USA is a story of reduced happiness. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 14th. The reasons are declining social support and increased corruption (see Chapter 7) and it is these same factors that explain why the Nordic countries do so much better.


The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery

Variations in levels of happiness can be explained by economic factors (such as income and employment), social factors (such as education and family life), and health (mental and physical).  Mental health explains more of the variance of happiness in
than income does.


Happiness at Work

Well-paying jobs are conducive to happiness, but this is far from the whole story. A range of further aspects are found to be strongly predictive of happiness. Other important job factors driving subjective wellbeing include work-life balance, autonomy, variety, job security, social capital, and health and safety risks. 


Find out more about this year's report at


The report is produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) with support from the Ernesto Illy Foundation. It is edited by Professor John F. Helliwell of the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; Professor Richard Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance; and Professor Sachs, director of SDSN.

For media enquiries contact Kyu Lee