Population and Social Characteristics

The Most Miserable Countries in the World

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Can people be happy living in poverty or in a place where violence is rampant or in a corrupt country? While happiness is subjective, these factors affect a nation’s state of overall well-being — and this is clearly seen in the ranking of countries by happiness. Gallup World Poll surveyed people of 143 countries, asking them to evaluate their life on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the best. And the results, as noted, are not surprising.

To find the 40 most miserable countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the World Happiness Report 2024. Countries are ranked by the average score for the years 2021-2023, and the 40 with the lowest score are listed here. We also added gross domestic product per capita in current U.S. dollars, life expectancy at birth (two factors found to explain happiness on a national level), and population totals from the World Bank.

Most of the countries on the list — 26 — are in sub-Saharan Africa with six others in the Middle East and North Africa. Another seven are in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Finally, one is a former Soviet republic, and it is likely not a surprise to find it on the list given it has been mired in a war that was forced on it since February 2022. Yes, Ukraine ranks 39th most miserable. (Conversely, these are the world’s happiest countries: see where the US ranks

All of the most miserable countries have lower GDP per capita than the world average of $12,688, with GDPs per capita ranging from $7,739 in Botswana (seventh most miserable) to $356 in Afghanistan — the most miserable country in the world. Indeed, in 28 of the 40 countries, the report found that GDP per capita is the factor explaining most of the (un)happiness score. In the other 12, the social support factor explains the score the most.

The 19th most miserable countries have also become more miserable compared to the three-year period a decade ago, with Lebanon’s score decreasing the most, followed by Afghanistan. In general, “happiness fell in South Asia in all age groups. It also fell in North America, especially among the young. And it fell in the Middle East and North Africa in all age groups,” the report notes.

Full methodology

To find the 40 most miserable countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the World Happiness Report 2024, which is published in partnership with Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and an editorial board. Countries are ranked by the average score for the years 2021-2023.

The Cantril ladder score is based on the Gallup World Survey, which asked people across 137 countries the following question: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

The report attempts to explain a country’s average ladder score into components explained by six hypothesized underlying determinants: GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, social support, perceived freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perception of corruption. These factors have “been broadly found in the research literature to explain national-level differences in life evaluations.”

24/7 Wall St. added 2021 average life expectancy at birth, 2022 population, and gross domestic product per capita data from the World Bank. GDP per capita is in current U.S. dollars. Data for Taiwan was sourced from FocusEconomics for GDP per capita and the CIA World Factbook for life expectancy and population figures.

40. Cameroon

Source: plant-trees / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.874 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 106)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 107)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,563 — #117 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 60.3 years — #129 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 27,914,536

39. Ukraine

Source: JARAMA / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.873 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 82)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 115)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $4,534 — #87 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 69.6 years — #94 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 38,000,000

38. Namibia

Source: 195807114@N04 / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.832 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : N/A
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 105)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 114)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $5,031 — #84 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 59.3 years — #134 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 2,567,012

37. Morocco

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nouamanb/34824853721/Wikimedia Commons
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.795 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 98)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 113)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $3,442 — #98 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 74.0 years — #60 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 37,457,971

36. Pakistan

Source: SadaQatH / Shutterstock.com
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.657 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 107)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 122)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,589 — #116 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 66.1 years — #107 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 235,824,862

35. Niger

Source: mathieudessus / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.556 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Old (age group rank: 101)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 114)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $585 — #138 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 61.6 years — #124 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 26,207,977

34. Burkina Faso

Source: Gilles_Paire / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.548 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 107)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 116)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $830 — #131 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 59.3 years — #133 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 22,673,762

33. Mauritania

Source: Alphorom / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.505 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Old (age group rank: 93)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 112)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $2,065 — #110 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 64.4 years — #112 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 4,736,139

32. Gambia

Source: 300tdorg / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.485 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : N/A
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 110)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 116)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $808 — #132 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 62.1 years — #121 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 2,705,992

31. Chad

Source: HomoCosmicos / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.471 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Old (age group rank: 94)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 111)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $717 — #134 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 52.5 years — #143 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 17,723,315

30. Kenya

Source: Jacek_Sopotnicki / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.470 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 109)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 123)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $2,099 — #109 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 61.4 years — #125 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 54,027,487

29. Tunisia

Source: villehoo / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.422 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 118)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 118)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $3,747 — #95 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 73.8 years — #64 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 12,356,117

28. Benin

Source: bigberto / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.377 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 115)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 122)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,303 — #122 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 59.8 years — #131 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 13,352,864

27. Uganda

Source: Giulia.corradini / Wikimedia Commons
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.372 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 111)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 134)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $964 — #128 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 62.7 years — #119 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 47,249,585

26. Myanmar

Source: fran001 / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.354 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Old (age group rank: 102)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 115)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,149 — #124 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 65.7 years — #109 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 54,179,306

25. Cambodia

Source: hadynyah / E+ via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.341 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 112)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 122)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,760 — #112 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 69.6 years — #95 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 16,767,842

24. Ghana

Source: flickr-rob-i / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.289 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 121)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 125)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $2,204 — #107 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 63.8 years — #113 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 33,475,870

23. Liberia

Source: elentir / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.269 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 113)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 127)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $755 — #133 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 60.7 years — #128 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 5,302,681

22. Mali

Source: piccaya / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.232 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 125)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 120)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $833 — #130 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 58.9 years — #137 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 22,593,590

21. Madagascar

Source: rod_waddington / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.228 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: Old (age group rank: 109)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 123)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $517 — #140 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 64.5 years — #111 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 29,611,714

20. Togo

Source: elentir / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.214 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Positive
  • Happiest age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 112)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 127)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $943 — #129 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 61.6 years — #123 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 8,848,699

19. Jordan

Source: flowcomm / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.186 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 114)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 130)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $4,311 — #89 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 74.3 years — #59 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 11,285,869

18. India

Source: SuSanA Secretariat / Wikimedia Commons
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 4.054 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 127)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 127)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $2,411 — #104 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 67.2 years — #104 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 1,417,173,173

17. Egypt

Source: Anton Aleksenko / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.977 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 130)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 126)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $4,295 — #90 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 70.2 years — #91 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 110,990,103

16. Sri Lanka

Source: Shakeel Sha / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.898 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 123)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 128)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $3,354 — #99 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 76.4 years — #44 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 22,181,000

15. Bangladesh

Source: dennissylvesterhurd / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.886 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 128)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 129)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $2,688 — #101 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 72.4 years — #75 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 171,186,372

14. Ethiopia

Source: derejeb / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.861 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 131)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 130)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,028 — #126 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 65.0 years — #110 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 123,379,924

13. Tanzania

Source: Runjiv / Wikimedia Commons
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.781 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 129)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 131)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,193 — #123 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 66.2 years — #106 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 65,497,748

12. Comoros

Source: ipostcross / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.566 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 132)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 139)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,485 — #119 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 63.4 years — #117 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 836,774

11. Yemen

Source: rod_waddington / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.561 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 135)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 136)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $650 — #136 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 63.8 years — #114 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 33,696,614

10. Zambia

Source: Sisoje / Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.502 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 136)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 142)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,457 — #120 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 61.2 years — #126 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 20,017,675

9. Eswatini

Source: Vera Shestak / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.502 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 134)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 137)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $3,987 — #93 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 57.1 years — #140 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 1,201,670

8. Malawi

Source: tilfo2000 / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.421 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 137)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 140)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $645 — #137 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 62.9 years — #118 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 20,405,317

7. Botswana

Source: poco_bw / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.383 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 133)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 140)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $7,739 — #64 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 61.1 years — #127 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 2,630,296

6. Zimbabwe

Source: Sproetniek / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.341 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 139)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 139)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $1,677 — #113 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 59.3 years — #135 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 16,320,537

5. Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa)

Source: MONUSCO/Myriam Asmani / Wikimedia Commons
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.295 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 140)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 139)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $654 — #135 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 59.2 years — #136 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 99,010,212

4. Sierra Leone

Source: play31 / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.245 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Old (age group rank: 133)
  • Least happy age group: LowerMiddle (age group rank: 136)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $476 — #141 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 60.1 years — #130 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 8,605,718

3. Lesotho

Source: Vera Shestak / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 3.186 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 138)
  • Least happy age group: UpperMiddle (age group rank: 142)
  • GDP per capita, 2022: $970 — #127 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 53.1 years — #141 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 2,305,825

2. Lebanon

Source: Vadim_Nefedov / iStock via Getty Images
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 2.707 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 142)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 141)
  • GDP per capita, 2021: $4,136 — #92 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 75.0 years — #53 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 5,489,739

1. Afghanistan

Source: ipostcross / Flickr
  • Happiness score, 2021-2023: 1.721 out of 10
  • Decade change in happiness : Negative
  • Happiest age group: Young (age group rank: 143)
  • Least happy age group: Old (age group rank: 143)
  • GDP per capita, 2021: $356 — #142 highest of 143 countries
  • Life expectancy, 2021: 62.0 years — #122 highest of 143 countries
  • Population, 2022: 41,128,771

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