The 20 Happiest (And Saddest) Countries In The World

In their third-ever World Happiness Report, an international team of economists, neuroscientists, and statisticians have determined that the Swiss are the happiest of us all. Of course they are. With one of the world's most thriving economies, universal healthcare coverage, top-notch education, constructive work environments, and overall reputation of neutrality, why wouldn't they be? (Oh, and also: chocolate.)

Switzerland was followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Where's the U.S., you ask? 15th, behind Mexico and Austria. Not bad, considering we went up two spots from last year's report.

The rankings are based on the four main factors upon which happiness relies, according to decades of psychological research:

  • Sustained positive emotion
  • Recovery from negative emotion
  • Pro-social behavior and generosity
  • Mindwandering, mindfulness and "affective stickiness" or emotion-captured attention

So, here are the happiest 20 countries from the study:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Iceland
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Canada
  6. Finland
  7. Netherlands
  8. Sweden
  9. New Zealand
  10. Australia
  11. Israel
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Austria
  14. Mexico
  15. United States
  16. Brazil
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Ireland
  19. Belgium
  20. United Arab Emirates

For the first time ever, the report breaks down the data by gender, age, and region, and it found surprisingly big differences between these demographics.

“A positive outlook during the early stages of life is inherently desirable, but it also lays the foundation for greater happiness during adulthood,” said Professor Richard Layard, co-author of the study, in a press release. “As we consider the value of happiness in today’s report, we must invest early on in the lives of our children so that they grow to become independent, productive and happy adults, contributing both socially and economically.”

With that in mind, here are the 20 saddest countries in the world:

  1. Togo
  2. Burundi
  3. Syria
  4. Benin
  5. Rwanda
  6. Afghanistan
  7. Burkina Faso
  8. Ivory Coast
  9. Guinea
  10. Chad
  11. Central African Republic
  12. Madagascar
  13. Tanzania
  14. Cambodia
  15. Niger
  16. Gabon
  17. Senegal
  18. Uganda
  19. Comoros
  20. Congo (Brazzaville)

If you want to read the full report, you can find it here.

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