Acting kind leads to happiness shows this year’s World Happiness Report

plus What kinds of behaviour change is required of individuals and institutions for well-being?

The Nordic countries have once again top results in the World Happiness Report rankings, with Finland maintaining its position as the world’s happiest country for the sixth consecutive year. Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden also made it to the top ten.

The report, published annually since 2012, uses six key factors to explain variation in self-reported happiness levels worldwide: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. Governments are increasingly using this analysis to shape policies toward happiness.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and several overlapping crises, most populations worldwide have shown remarkable resilience, with global life satisfaction averages in the past two years just as high as those before the pandemic.

The report takes a closer look at the trends of how happiness is distributed, in many cases unequally, among people. It examines the happiness gap between the top and the bottom halves of the population, which is small in countries where almost everyone is very unhappy, and in the top countries where almost no one is unhappy. More generally, people are happier living in countries where the happiness gap is smaller. Happiness gaps globally have been fairly stable, although there are growing gaps in many African countries.

“This year’s report features many interesting insights,” said Lara Aknin, one of the co-authors of the report. “But one that I find particularly interesting and heartening has to do with pro-sociality. For a second year, we see that various forms of everyday kindness, such as helping a stranger, donating to charity, and volunteering, are above pre-pandemic levels. Acts of kindness have been shown to both lead to and stem from greater happiness.”

In conclusion, the World Happiness Report 2023 underscores the importance of happiness and well-being in public policy and the actions of businesses and civil society.

Read the World Happiness Report >>


The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, powered by the Gallup World Poll data. This year’s report was released on March 20, 2023.

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