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Discover where smiles shine brightest: the happiest countries in the world 2023

Photo by Joel Mott for Unsplash

Happiness represents an important factor in determining the quality of life of individuals and societies. Every single individual strives for happiness in their life. However, happiness is a state of mind that is influenced by numerous factors, such as social, economic, and political conditions. This being said, the environment and/or the country you live in can have a significant impact on your happiness.

Besides happiness being a fairly subjective matter, every year, the World Happiness Report ranks countries based on their levels of happiness and well-being by an index value. The score results from averages over the past three years and is based on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll Data.

The countries were evaluated based on the following factors: income, health life expectancy, social support, having a sense of freedom to make key life decisions, generosity, and perception of corruption.

In this article, we will take a closer look at it and investigate the data of the top 10 happiest countries in the world and explore the factors that contribute to their happiness.

  • Finland: For a record-breaking sixth time, this Nordic country has been named the happiest in the world. Finland is still far in front of other nations, despite the fact that its final score (7.804) is a little lower than it was last year (7.821). And it’s not keeping its happiness-boosting secret to itself.

    To help people “discover their ‘inner Finn’ and master the Finnish state of mind,” the nation has announced that it will host a “Masterclass of Happiness.” You’re wondering what is on the schedule? In the peaceful surroundings of Kuru Resort in the Lakeland area, which is known for its breathtaking landscapes, qualified coaches will assist participants in connecting with nature and finding their inner peace.
  • Denmark: Denmark continues to be the runner-up this year with a total score of 7.586. The nation where hygge is a way of life is another evidence that a country does not need to be miserable just because it has high taxes.

    Danish inhabitants pay the highest personal income tax across Europe (almost 56%), but they also have a robust social welfare system, which includes free health care and education, which appears to make them quite happy.
Photo by Kazuend
  • Iceland: The Kingdom of Fire and Ice is not just among the safest places on earth, but it is also among the happiest, with a score of 7.530. The nation, which narrowed its gender gap by more than 90%, takes the top spot in the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap Report.

    You are wondering what else brings happiness to Icelanders? To name just a few: Iceland has a high standard of living, a strong feeling of community, a stable economy, a lack of corruption, kindness, and free education for everyone. Also, having access to some of the most breathtaking natural settings in the world must be beneficial.

  • Israel: with a score of 7.472 Israel experienced the most improvement in this year’s rating by moving up five positions to number four, its highest position since the report’s inception in 2012.

    Analysts attribute this to the nation’s quick post-COVID rebound (the economy expanded by 6.5 percent and GDP per capita increased by 4.4 percent). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s statistics also shows that Israelis have strong social ties and a long life expectancy.

  • Netherlands: The Netherlands ranks fourth on the list with a score of 7.403. The country is known for its progressive policies, beautiful landscapes, and high quality of life. The Dutch enjoy excellent healthcare and education systems, as well as a strong economy.

    Apart from its never-ending tulip fields, the nation’s economy was recently recognized for its resiliency and impressive recovery compared to the rest of the EU. Also, accessible higher education, a solid job market, a strong feeling of community, and high civic involvement all help Dutch society to remain its sense of happiness.

  • Sweden: Sweden ranks sixth on the list with a score of 7.395. The country has a strong social welfare system, high levels of social trust, and a focus on work-life balance. Swedes also enjoy a progressive political system and a high standard of living.

    This year, Sweden rose one place to take sixth place. Despite having more COVID-19 fatalities than other Nordic countries, the country’s ranking improved marginally from the previous year. According to OECD data, Sweden has the second-lowest levels of air and environmental pollution after Finland, which has a positive impact on life expectancy. Better life satisfaction is also associated with a high employment rate and gender equality (above 80%) in Sweden.
Photo by Kate Kozyrka
  • Norway: Norway has a score of 7.315. It is understandable why Norwegians believe their country to be a joyful one. Norway has consistently ranked among the top 10 happiest nations, and in 2017 it even took the top spot. Its free public education system, high-income rate, low levels of corruption, and comprehensive social support system all contribute to an averagely high level of happiness among its citizens.

    You also don’t have to go far to find a peaceful place to unwind and recharge because the area is abundant with natural attractions such as fjords, mountains, lush forests, lakes, and frequent northern lights sightings.

  • Switzerland: Switzerland ranks eighth on the list with a score of 7.240. While dropping four places since last year, Switzerland continues to have among of the world’s happiest (and healthiest) citizens, thanks to low crime rates, a high GDP per person, and stunning alpine scenery that encourages year-round activity.

    The World Happiness Report states that Swiss people associate high life satisfaction with “prosociality,” such as charity giving and volunteering.

  • Luxembourg debuted among the top 10 happiest nations last year at number six, but with a score of 7.228 in 2023, it dropped to position nine.

    Luxembourg is one of the least populous and one of the smallest countries in Europe, with a little less area than Rhode Island, yet it has one of the highest GDP per capita levels in the world. Safety, high levels of public trust, and variety all help locals feel happier here (half of which have a foreign nationality).

  •  New Zealand has the same tenth-place position as last year on the list of the world’s happiest nations, with a score 7.123. The country has had a constant inflow of tourists since it reopened after COVID in April 2022, allowing it to recover and, in certain industries, surpass pre-pandemic levels.

    Apart from having a high GDP per person, New Zealanders are fortunate to have access to amazing beaches, lakes, and wineries, even those who live in cities. Moreover, the nation does better than other OECD nations on several aspects of well-being, including civic involvement, health, and education.

In conclusion, the happiest countries in the world share several commonalities, including strong social welfare systems, work-life balance, environmental sustainability, and social trust.

These factors contribute to a higher quality of life and a greater sense of well-being among their citizens. While every country is unique, these factors provide a blueprint for countries seeking to improve the happiness and well-being of their citizens.

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