The Happiest Countries in the World

Print Email

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. Chile
> Happiness score: 6.5
> GDP per capita: $22,704
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 73.7%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 84.9%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 69.4 years

Chile is one of three countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region to rank among the happiest countries in the world. On a scale of 0-10, residents have an average well-being rating of 6.5, higher than in all but 24 other countries. Health is closely tied to happiness and Chileans can expect to live an average of 69.4 years in good health, a higher healthy life expectancy than in the majority of countries worldwide and the second highest of any country in the region. Positive health outcomes are closely correlated with wealth, and Chile is a relatively affluent country. The country’s GDP per capita of $22,704 is greater than that of most countries, and also the second highest in the region.

The country’s overall happiness would likely improve if corruption were reduced and trust in institutions restored. Nearly 84% of the population agrees that there is widespread corruption in government and business affairs, a larger share than in most countries and the second highest share among the happiest countries.

Source: Thinkstock

24. Mexico
> Happiness score: 6.5
> GDP per capita: $16,838
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 77.7%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 81.7%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 67.9 years

Mexico is the 24th happiest country in the world and the second happiest country in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Mexico’s GDP per capita of $16,838 is greater than that of most countries in the region, as is the country’s healthy life expectancy at birth of 67.9 years.

Mexico’s relative prosperity likely help attract regional migrants as well as immigrants from around the world. As a popular destination for immigrants, Mexico is one of only four countries on this list in which the foreign-born population reports higher levels of happiness on average than those born locally.

Source: Thinkstock

23. France
> Happiness score: 6.5
> GDP per capita: $38,137
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 81.2%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 90.5%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 72.6 years

The majority of the world’s happiest countries are in Western Europe, and France is one of them. Relatively wealthy, France’s GDP per capita of $38,137 is higher than that of the vast majority of countries worldwide. High-income countries are more likely to have healthy populations, and France is no exception. From birth, French residents can expect nearly 73 years of healthy life, the 11th highest healthy life expectancy of any country.

One of the most critical components of personal happiness is close relationships. An estimated 90.5% of French residents have a close friend or family member they can count on if needed, a larger share than in vast majority of countries worldwide.

Source: Thinkstock

22. Malta
> Happiness score: 6.6
> GDP per capita: $35,469
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 91.7%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 92.9%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 71.8 years

Having a sense of control over one’s future and the freedom to make life choices can have considerable bearing on overall happiness. In the Mediterranean island nation of Malta, nearly 92% of residents are satisfied with their freedom to make life choices, a larger share than in all but 13 other countries worldwide.

Multiple studies suggest that generous individuals are generally happier. The high level of subjective well-being in Malta may be attributable in part to the population’s generosity, as people in Malta are more likely to make charitable donations than those in any other country on this list.

Source: Hareco / Wikimedia Commons

21. Czech Republic
> Happiness score: 6.7
> GDP per capita: $31,522
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 83.1%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 91.4%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 70.9 years

Formed in 1993 when the former nation of Czechoslovakia split, the Czech Republic is one of the youngest countries in the world. It is also one of the happiest. Happy countries are often affluent, and the Czech Republic’s GDP per capita of $31,522 is the highest of any country in Central and Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic is also the only country in Central or Eastern Europe to rank among the happiest in the world.

Not all Czech residents report high levels of life satisfaction, however. Residents born in the Czech Republic are more likely to be happy than the foreign-born population, and the difference in reported happiness between those two groups is the largest of any country on this list. Both the Czech President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babis were recently elected on anti-immigration platforms.