World Happiness Report 2023


The World Happiness Report 2023 has been published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative of the United Nations. It was released on March 20, 2023, United Nations ‘International Day of Happiness’. The report presents a ranking of national happiness based on six factors – Gross Domestic Product per capital, social support, health, freedom to make key life decisions, generosity, and absence of corruption.

This is the 11th edition of the World Happiness Report, the first report of which was published in the year 2012. It presents an analysis of a three-year period from 2020 to 2022, during which nations were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the sixth consecutive year, Finland has ranked first in the report, followed by Denmark and Iceland. Major changes in the top 10 rankings include Israel jumping five places to the fourth place and Switzerland dropping four places to the eighth place. India is ranked 126th in the world, out of the 137 countries included in the research. 

The 166-page report document is divided into five chapters: The Happiness Agenda. The Next 10 years (Chapter 1); World Happiness, Trust, and Social Connections in Times of Crisis (Chapter 2); Well-being and State Effectiveness (Chapter 3); Doing Good and Feeling Good: Relationships between Altruism and Well-being for Altruists, Beneficiaries, and Observers (Chapter 4); and Towards Reliably Forecasting the Well-being of Populations Using Social Media: Three Generations of Progress (Chapter 5).


  1. Measuring a nation's happiness involves assessing life satisfaction, addressing misery levels, and promoting well-being, the report states.

  2. The report recommends expanding United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to include mental health, work quality, family, and community.

  3. The report states that every policy pertaining to expenditure, taxes, and regulation must be evaluated considering how it affects the overall well-being of people. The objective of the report, in this regard, is to evaluate policies based on their impact on individual well-being.

  4. Finland has been leading the World Happiness rankings for six years, since the year 2017. The report adds that war-torn Afghanistan and Lebanon remain the two unhappiest countries, with average life evaluations more than five points lower (on a scale running from 0 to 10) than that seen in the 10 happiest countries.

  5. Effective government policies, including fiscal, collective, and legal capabilities, significantly impacts a nation's average life satisfaction, the report notes. Governments are classified into three categories: i) ‘Common-interest states’, having higher life satisfaction and expenditure largely made for the common good; ‘Special-interest states’, that are generally run to favor the interests of the ruling group, but depict higher life satisfaction than weak states; ‘Weak states’, which are also run to favor the interests of the ruling class and also lack political stability.

  6. Out of the 137 countries included in the report, India is ranked 126th. Based on the metrics specified by Besley-Persson in the report, India has been classified as a 'Weak state’.

  7. Assessing well-being through social media provides valuable insights for policy evaluation and monitoring societal changes, the report states. Digital cohort (in which users are followed over time and trends are described by observing the corresponding change in users) and Natural Language Processing (which studies the affective and emotional aspects) offer new models of assessment, the report states.

    Focus and Factoids by Arundhathi Baburaj.

    PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Lara B. Aknin, and Shun Wang


Sustainable Development Solutions Network


20 Mar, 2023