But just how happy is each country? The U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network uses data from the Gallup World Poll to answer that question. According to the most recent report in 2013, Denmark is the world’s leader in happiness, while Togo has the most progress to make.
Here’s the chart from the 2013 report:
The report combines a number of factors that can affect happiness: life satisfaction, healthy life expectancy, perceptions of corruption, gross domestic product per capita, freedom to make life choices, social support and generosity in each country. While the Gallup World Poll is the primary source of the report’s data, it also uses information from the World Bank (for GDP) and the World Health Organization (for life expectancy).
Ever since Bhutan began pushing more than 40 years ago to use “gross national happiness” as an alternative to GDP, happiness has become an increasingly popular metric in the public policy sphere. German chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean president Park Geun-hye and UK prime minister David Cameron have all made pushes to incorporate happiness as a yardstick into the understanding of the state of their countries.
The United States, meanwhile, has been getting more glum. Happiness in the U.S. fell by 4 percent between the 2005-2007 report and this edition, which covers the 2010-2012 period.