US no more in world’s top 20 happiest countries list

A recent report indicates that the United States has dropped out of the top 20 happiest countries to reside in for the first time. Released on Wednesday, the World Happiness Report disclosed that the US has slipped from its 15th position last year to 23rd this year. The report, developed in collaboration with Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the World Happiness Report’s editorial board, highlighted a decrease in happiness across all age groups in the US. Particularly concerning is the significant decline among young people, who now rank as the least happy age demographic.

Contrary to previous trends from 2006-2010, where the youth reported higher happiest levels compared to middle-aged groups and were nearly as content as those aged 60 and above, there has been a noticeable shift. The report noted a decrease in happiness among the young, especially pronounced among females, with a decline of approximately three-quarters of a point.

In the period spanning from 2021 to 2023, the US ranks 62nd in happiness among individuals under 30, while those aged 60 and above rank the US 10th. A generational comparison reveals that individuals born before 1965 tend to report higher average happiness levels than those born since 1980. Among millennials, life satisfaction declines with each passing year, while among baby boomers, it increases with age.

Finland retains its title as the world’s happiest country for the seventh consecutive year, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Israel. Conversely, Afghanistan is identified as the least happy country, trailed by Lebanon, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Notably, the report’s rankings are not based on conventional metrics such as GDP per capita or social support, but rather on individuals’ self-assessments of their own lives.

These self-assessments encompass various aspects of well-being, including social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and perceptions of corruption. The report’s methodology prioritizes subjective evaluations as a measure of overall happiness, rather than relying solely on objective indicators.

The shift in the US ranking and the broader trends highlighted in the report underscore the complexities of gauging and understanding happiness on a global scale. While economic factors and social policies certainly play a role, individual perceptions and experiences also heavily influence overall happiness levels.

Addressing the decline in happiness among certain demographics, particularly young people, may require a multifaceted approach that considers societal, economic, and psychological factors. Strategies to enhance well-being might include initiatives to improve mental health support, address economic inequalities, foster stronger social connections, and promote a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment among individuals of all ages.

Ultimately, the findings of the World Happiness Report serve as a reminder of the importance of prioritizing holistic well-being in society, alongside economic prosperity and material wealth. By understanding the diverse factors that contribute to happiness and well-being, policymakers and communities can work towards creating environments that support the flourishing of individuals and societies alike.

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