US drops off list of happiest countries for first time

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(NEXSTAR) – The grass may indeed be greener on the other side – or at least in 22 other countries around the world. The United States dropped to 23rd place in the annual World Happiness Report released Wednesday.

It’s the first time ever the U.S. has been outside the top 20 list in the report’s 12-year history.

The drop in America’s happiness score was due in part to a big drop in the wellbeing of young people. If you just look at the happiness of people under 30, the U.S. actually ranked in 62nd place. For people over the age of 60, the U.S. came in 10th place.

Canada, New Zealand and Australia all have similarly large discrepancies, where young people are much less happy than older people. It’s been a growing problem since 2010, the report finds.

“In comparing generations, those born before 1965 are, on average, happier than those born since 1980,” according to a summary of the report’s findings. “Among Millennials, evaluation of one’s own life drops with each year of age, while among Boomers life satisfaction increases with age.”

While the U.S. slid down the list, countries in Central and Eastern Europe made big jumps in the past year. Serbia and Bulgaria both jumped more than 60 spots in the world rankings.

Wondering where you’ll find the happiest people in the world? Finland topped the list, yet again, according to the report. The country was followed by several of its Northern European neighbors: Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden ranked second through fourth.

Of the 143 countries evaluated, Afghanistan came in last.

You can read the full report here. This year’s report considers the three-year average of data from 2021 to 2023 to determine the rankings. The World Happiness Report is put together with help from Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Psychology, economics, and sociology experts work together to evaluate each country’s “happiness” based on a variety of factors, from the nation’s GDP, to its life expectancy and citizens’ perception of corruption.

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