The World Happiness Report reported by the U.N. is a survey of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The ranks and scores use data from the 2015-2019 Gallup World Polls. The scores are based on the extent to which six main factors – Economy (GDP), Family (Social Support), Health (Life Expectancy), Freedom, Trust (Government Corruption), Generosity, plus residual factors – contribute to overall happiness. This overview of the report analyzes each factor and provides an interactive world map to view how the people of each country perceive their own happiness.
Happiness Score vs. Happiness Factor
Hover over a region in the legend to see its position on the chart. Bubble size corresponds to the country's overall happiness score.
Across all years in the data set, Economy, as measured by GDP per capita, correlates most highly with a country's overall happiness score. Countries with greater GDPs thus demonstrate higher Overall Happiness Scores.
Family measures the average of responses to the yes/no question "If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them?" There is less variance here among countries, with the noticeable exception of certain countries that have recently experienced civil war, extreme political unrest, and/or fallout from a natural disaster. The most variance among Norther America, Latina America & the Caribbean, and Western Europe appears in 2016.
A country's health score is measured by its average life expectency. Here, it is highly correlated with overall happiness. Though there is little change among countries from year to year, as of 2019 there is a slight increase in life expectency for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Freedom, like Health, measures the average response to the yes/no question "Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?", and does not correlate as strongly to Overall Happiness as some of the other factors examined. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeastern Asia, which otherwise have much lower overall happiness scores, demonstrate freedom scores on par with North America and Western Europe. On the other hand, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe have much lower Freedom scores relative to their Health or Economy Scores.
Trust measures answers to the yes/no question "Is corruption widespread throughout the government (or businesses)?". The data shows a very weak correlation between Trust and Overall Happiness. The Scandinavian countries of Western Europe and New Zealand show a high level of trust, along with Singapore, Rwanda, and Qatar. Many countries do not score highly in this category.
Generosity scores are calculated through a regression analysis of the average of yes/no answers to the question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?” and national GDP per capita. There is a weak correlation between Generosity and Overall Happiness. Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand demonstrate the highest Generosity scores relative to Overall Happiness.
A country's Dystopia Residual accounts for those factors which contribute to Overall Happiness but are not captured in any of the above categories. It is calculated by substracting each score in the above categories from the Overall Happiness Score. Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeastern Asia have some of the highest Residual scores relative to their Overall Happiness scores.