The Happiest Countries in the World

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5. Switzerland
> Happiness score: 7.5
> GDP per capita: $57,333
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 92.9%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 93.9%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 73.2 years

Switzerland’s population is one of the happiest in the world. While non-native Swiss residents also rank relatively high in well-being, the native-born population reports extremely high average well-being.

Overall affluence correlates highly with well-being among countries, and Switzerland has one of the wealthiest populations. The country’s GDP per capita of $57,333 is the eighth highest of the countries considered in the World Happiness Report. The country also appears to be one of the least corrupt, which could contribute to the overall sense of life satisfaction among the population. Just 28.8% of the population reports a sense of corruption in the government or business climate. In contrast, 70% of Americans report perceptions of corruption.

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4. Iceland
> Happiness score: 7.5
> GDP per capita: $44,854
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 94.3%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 97.7%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 72.8 years

Icelanders rate their personal well-being at an average of 7.5 out of 10, the fourth highest happiness score in the world. Strong personal relationships are one of the most important factors in individual well-being, and Icelanders have strong social support networks. Some 97.7% of the population have a friend or family member they can rely on in the case of an emergency, the largest share of any country in the world. Additionally, nearly all Icelanders — 94.3% of the population — are satisfied with their freedom to make life choices.

Unlike most countries on this list, there is virtually no difference in subjective well-being scores between the immigrant population in Iceland and those born there.

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3. Denmark
> Happiness score: 7.6
> GDP per capita: $46,000
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 94.9%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 95.5%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 71.3 years

Likely due in large part to close social connections, a prevailing sense of personal freedom, and trust in institutions, the Danes rank as the world’s third happiest population, only narrowly trailing Norway and Finland. About 95% of Danes are satisfied with their personal freedom to make life choices, and 96% have a close friend or family member they can count on any time — each the fourth largest share of any country. Additionally, fewer than 20% of Danes perceive widespread corruption in government or business institutions, nearly the smallest share in the world and the smallest share in Western Europe.

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2. Norway
> Happiness score: 7.6
> GDP per capita: $64,340
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 95.2%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 95.2%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 71.1 years

Happiness can be contingent on one’s perception of his or her own freedom, and residents of Norway are among the most likely people in the world to have a strong sense of control over their own future. Some 95.2% of the population are satisfied with their personal freedom to make life choices, the largest share of any country on this list.

Most of the happiest countries are also affluent, and Norway is no exception. GDP per capita in the Scandinavian country is $64,340, the sixth highest in the world and the second highest in Western Europe, trailing only Luxembourg.

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1. Finland
> Happiness score: 7.6
> GDP per capita: $39,675
> Pop. satisfied with their personal freedom: 94.7%
> Pop. with close friends or family: 95.6%
> Healthy life expectancy at birth: 71.5 years

Finland’s population is the happiest in the world. Though with a GDP per capita of $39,675 the country is not the wealthiest, the country ranks high by a number of other factors that have been shown to bolster personal happiness. For example, the Finnish are relatively trusting, with just 22.1% of residents perceiving widespread corruption in government and business institutions, nearly the smallest share in the world. Additionally, nearly all country residents have a close friend or family member they can count on any time, and there is almost universal satisfaction with their personal freedom to make life choices.

Finland is one of only four countries on this list in which the foreign born population has a higher happiness score than those born in the country.