Lithuanians are Happier!


Lithuania took the top spot for people under the age of 30 in the UN-sponsored annual World Happiness Report published on March 19. But the country placed 44th for people over 60 in the report, which ranked countries by generation for the first time. Neighbouring Latvia and Estonia are ranked 31st and 44th for their under-30 populations, and 51st and 35th for older people, respectively.

In the overall rankings, Lithuania rose one position to number 19 this year and remains the leader among the three Baltic countries, with Estonia in 34th place and Latvia in 46th.

Unlike its neighbours, Lithuania has been steadily climbing up the happiness rankings since 2017, when it placed 52nd.

The top 10 countries have remained much the same since before COVID. Finland is still at the top, followed by Denmark, then Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.

But in the next 10, there is more change, with the transition countries of Eastern Europe rising in happiness (especially Czechia, Lithuania and Slovenia). Partly for this reason the United States and Germany have fallen to 23 and 24 in the rankings. Finland tops the overall rankings for the seventh successive year. Afghanistan, which has been facing a humanitarian catastrophe since the Taliban regained control in 2020, stayed at the bottom of the 143 countries surveyed.

First published in 2012, the report ranks around 150 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.

In many but not all regions, the young are happier than the old. But in North America happiness has fallen so sharply for the young that they are now less happy than the old. By contrast, in the transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the young are much happier than the old. In Western Europe as a whole happiness is similar at all ages, while elsewhere it tends to decline over the life cycle (with an occasional upturn for the old).

For these reasons, the ranking of countries by happiness is very different for the young and for the old. As between generations, after taking into account age and life circumstances, those born before 1965 have life evaluations about one-quarter of a point higher than those born after 1980.

 Canada is in 15th place, down two spots from last year, while its younger people are way down the rankings in the newly added category.

For the first time in the 12-year history of the survey, the United States is out of the top 20, falling to 23rd place, down from 15th last year, due to a big drop in the sense of wellbeing of Americans under 30, the annual report shows.

By contrast, happiness at every age has risen sharply in Central and Eastern Europe, so that young people are now equally happy in both regions of Europe. In the former Soviet Union and East Asia too there have been large increases in happiness at every age, while in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa happiness has fallen at every age.

The report is prepared in partnership with the polling agency Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. More information is available at: