Happy Nations

The happiest places in the world and the USA

Happiness is different for everyone, as we all have our own personal likes and dislikes. However, there are some factors that are essential for a happy life, while others are good indicators of how happy we are as a population.

It’s not uncommon to struggle to feel happy from time to time, with the various challenges that life throws at us weighing us down, but there are many ways that we can boost our happiness. These range from getting more sleep, to spending more time outdoors or consuming a healthier, more balanced diet.

Yet, many of us might feel that we’d be happier if we were in a different situation, living in a different place, where happiness was that much easier to achieve. Well, we wanted to put this idea to the test.

That’s why NiceRx has analyzed 50 countries from around the world, measuring them against a range of happiness factors, to create a guide to the happiest nations on the planet. We’ve also compared happiness levels in all 50 states for those of us who prefer the home comforts of familiar soil.

So, is there a distant land where happiness is taken as a given? Or is this just a case of the grass being greener on the other side?

The happiest countries in the world

Here we take a look at the ten countries with the highest overall happiness score. Are they what you were expecting? And could you see yourself living in any of these happy places?




Happiness Score

The happiest country in the world is Switzerland, which scored 8.84 on our happiness scale. Switzerland scored a very high 188.36 on the Quality of Life Index and benefits from having one of the most long-lived populations in our study, with the average Swiss life expectancy standing at 83.70 years.




Happiness Score

Denmark came second with an overall Happiness Score of 8.76. Denmark scored well across the board, with particularly strong results when it came to the affordability of property for those living and working in the country. Danes also benefit from having a government that most people trust, as the country received a very high Corruption Perception Index score of 88.




Happiness Score

Finland is another country that scored well across the board, and as a result, finished in third place with a Happiness Score of 8.60. Like the top two scoring countries, Finland has a very high safety rating, a good life expectancy, low perceived corruption and a good quality of life rating.

The most unhappy countries

Having looked at the top performers, we now turn our attention to those countries that didn’t rank so highly. Despite the low ratings, would you still consider a new life in these countries?




Happiness Score

India is the least happy country in our study, with a Happiness Score of just 2.98. The country performed fairly weakly across the board, with no single factor standing out as an exception. The country has a life expectancy of just 69.66 years and is the only country other than South Africa where the average citizen isn’t expected to reach 70 years of age.


South Africa


Happiness Score

Second from the bottom is South Africa, which scored just 2.99 out of 10. Aside from a relatively good quality of life rating and a reasonable property affordability score, South Africa scored poorly in most areas, with a particularly low safety score and a very short life expectancy of just 64.13 years.




Happiness Score

Indonesia takes third place with a Happiness Score of just 3.24. The country performed particularly poorly on the quality of life index, while also scoring just 0.4 on the property affordability index, showing that Indonesia is a difficult place to earn enough for a secure and happy life.

Full happiness rankings by country

So, are you dreaming of a happier life abroad? Or are you perfectly happy with life in your country? Check out our full rankings to see how your home country stacks up on the global stage.

World happiness report score 2021 Quality of life index Life expectancy Property affordability index Safety score Corruption perceptions index Happiness score



The happiest states

Having looked at the happiness levels in some of the major countries from across the world, we now turn our attention to domestic happiness. Here, we’ve looked at how each of the 50 states compare across a range of happiness-related factors and have ranked them according to an overall Happiness Score.




Happiness Score

Hawaii is the happiest state in the whole country, scoring 9.02 on our ranking. The Aloha State is often seen as a dream destination for seekers of sun, fun, and happiness, and these scores seem to support that notion. Hawaii has a particularly low rate of serious mental illness and one of the longest life expectancies in the country at 81 years.




Happiness Score

The happiest state in the USA is Connecticut, which received an impressive Happiness Score of 8.82. Connecticut scores well for every factor, with a poverty rate under 10%, a life expectancy of 80.4 years, and a relatively high Safety Score of 61.49.


New Jersey


Happiness Score

In third place, with an overall Happiness Score of 8.25, is New Jersey. This high score is due to a high mean salary of $114,691 supported by strong performances in all other categories.

The most unhappy states

At the other end of the scale are the least happy states in the country. These parts of the USA perform much more poorly across our range of happiness factors, making them more difficult places to live a happy life.




Happiness Score

Mississippi received the lowest overall Happiness Score of any state, at just 2.06, making it the least happy place in the country. The state suffers from an incredibly high poverty rate of 20.30%, while also suffering from a very low mean household income of $62,835. Mississippi also has a very low safety score, combined with one of the highest homicide rates and a life expectancy of just 74.6 years.




Happiness Score

Louisiana is the second least happy state in the country, with a Happiness Score of 2.38. This state performs poorly across the board, scoring barely any better than Mississippi in most areas. For example, the poverty rate stands at 19.20%, there are 14.7 homicides per 100,000 people, and the state received a safety score of just 34.54. However, the mean household income was slightly higher at $71,001.




Happiness Score

The third most unhappy state in the USA is Arkansas, with a Happiness Score of 2.61. Like most other states in the bottom ten, Arkansas scored poorly across the board. However, the state also recorded the highest proportion of adults having a serious mental illness, which will have contributed to it’s near-bottom finish.

Full USA happiness ranking by state

Didn’t see your state in our top and bottom tables? Find it in our full ranking table below to see how it compares, and consider whether a move might be a good thing for your own personal happiness.

Adults with serious mental illness Life expectancy Mean household income Homicides per 100,000 people Safety score Poverty rate Happiness score




We wanted to find the happiest places in the world, both in the USA and globally. To do this, we divided our study into two sections, one looking at happiness levels in all 50 states, with the other comparing happiness across 50 countries from around the world.

For our state-level analysis, we used CDC data to find out the life expectancy and homicide rate in each state. We then used data from World Population Review to record the mean household income and safety rating for each state and used Data USA to find each state’s rates of mental illness and poverty.

These factors cover a range of different topics, from health and social affairs to economic matters. This provided us with a good overview of the different stresses and strains that people living in these states might experience.

Once we had collected the data, we then combined it into a single “Happiness Score” that gave equal weighting to each factor and produced an overall score out of ten. This allowed us to rank the states by their happiness levels and reveal the happiest and most unhappy parts of the country.

For our national-level study, we created a list of 50 countries to investigate. These included members of the EU and EEA, the G20, and OECD countries, along with several other major economies.

We used data from Numbeo to find the safety scores for each country, as well as each nation’s scores on the Affordability Index and Quality of Life Index. Next, we used World Bank data to find the life expectancy in each country and used Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index to record levels of perceived corruption in public life. We also took each country’s score from the 2021 World Happiness Report, which looked at a range of additional indicators.

As with the state-level portion of our study, we combined the scores for each country into a single, equally-weighted Happiness Score which allowed us to directly compare the countries, rank them according to happiness, and reveal the happiest places in the world.