IAS Target

World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It contains articles, and rankings of national happiness based on respondent ratings of their own lives, which the report also correlates with various life factors. As of March 2019, Finland was ranked the happiest country in the world twice in a row.

2019 World Happiness Report

The 2018 iteration was released on 20 March and focused on the relation between happiness and migration. According to the 2019 Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world, with Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and The Netherlands holding the next top positions. The World Happiness Report 2018 ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.
The main focus of this year's report, in addition to its usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries. The overall rankings of country happiness are based on the pooled results from Gallup World Poll surveys from 2015–2017, and show both change and stability.

Four countries have held the top spot in the last four reports:

  • Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland.
  • All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being:
    • income,
    • healthy life expectancy,
    • social support,
    • freedom,
    • trust and
    • generosity
Among the top countries, differences are small enough that year-to-year changes in the rankings are to be expected. The analysis of happiness changes from 2008–2015 shows Togo as the biggest gainer, moving up 17 places in the overall rankings from 2015. The biggest loser is Venezuela, down 2.2 points.
Five of the report's seven chapters deal primarily with migration, as summarized in Chapter 1. For both domestic and international migrants, the report studies the happiness of those migrants and their host communities, and also of those in the countryside or in the country of origin. The results are generally positive. Perhaps the most striking finding of the whole report is that a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population. The immigrant happiness rankings are based on the full span of Gallup data from 2005 to 2017, sufficient to have 117 countries with more than 100 immigrant respondents.
The ten happiest countries in the overall rankings also make up ten of the top eleven spots in the ranking of immigrant happiness. Finland is at the top of both rankings in this report, with the happiest immigrants, and the happiest population in general. While convergence to local happiness levels is quite rapid, it is not complete, as there is a ‘footprint' effect based on the happiness in each source country. This effect ranges from 10% to 25%. This footprint effect explains why immigrant happiness is less than that of the locals in the happiest countries, while being greater in the least happy countries.