In this article, we will explore the latest happiness statistics, including

  • which countries are the happiest
  • marriage and happiness
  • statistics on why happiness matters
  • the happiness of immigrants
  • what age is the happiest
  • income and happiness
  • which gender is the happiest
  • the effects of happiness on self-esteem

But first…

What is Happiness?

Happiness is a harmonious state of being, according to the Journal of Happiness Studies, where researchers investigated happiness culturally and historically. Happiness tends to exist under four conditions:

  1. Feeling content or satisfied. 
  2. Being an agent of one’s happiness.
  3. Emphasizing inner enrichment over material satisfaction. 
  4. Maintaining a positive outlook on the future.

Empirical researchers define happiness as the combination of life satisfaction plus subjective well-being

However, happiness can also be present in negative states such as distress and depression.

A graph showing that happiness can also be present in negative states such as distress and depression.

Source: Annual Review of Public Health: Happiness and Health

Multiple factors can contribute to one’s happiness.

  • Genetics
  • Education
  • Personality
  • Martial status
  • Financial situation 
  • Number of friends
  • Amount of time spent on activities
  • Stress and ill health

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Why was Happiness Different 200 Years Ago?

Researchers examined people’s happiness over time by investigating cultural and historical variations in concepts of happiness. They analyzed the definition of happiness in Webster dictionaries from 30 countries spanning 200+ years.

For a long time, happiness has centered on circumstances outside one’s control, such as fortune and good luck. During the rise of western American society, the definition of happiness has shifted towards something that can be controlled and actively pursued. 

Historical scholars have used the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the inclusion of the pursuit of happiness to outline this change. While the meaning of “happiness” in this context is debated, one perspective is that Thomas Jefferson and supporting authors meant private or personal happiness.

He believed that the pursuit of personal happiness comes from being a good citizen rather than focusing solely on pursuing material wealth and that maximizing personal happiness doesn’t contradict increasing collective happiness. 

Genetics and Happiness

To say a “happiness gene” is an oversimplification, but happiness can be found in our DNA through the serotonin transporter gene 5-HTTLPR and is mainly expressed through our environment.

Researchers have found that happiness is heritable and is strongly associated with personality traits. People high in extraversion and low in neuroticism are generally happier!

Regarding well-being and genetics, heritability for more increased well-being was anywhere from 0-64% of the time, according to a study. Scientists suggest average happiness level results from a complex interaction of life circumstances, genes, and behaviors.

Altering one’s environment to manifest more positive experiences and better handle hardships will amplify the effects of any chance of inherited happiness.

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What are The Happiest Countries?

Which country has the highest level of happiness, and what makes the citizens the happiest? The World Happiness Report is a paramount general social survey containing questions about subjective well-being. Participants rate aspects of their current lives, such as life satisfaction, with 0 being the worst possible life and 10 being the best possible life.

The top 17 happiest countries as of 2022

The top 17 happiest countries as of 2022

Source: World Happiness Report

Here are the top 17 happiest countries according to 2022 data:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. the Netherlands
  6. Luxembourg
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Israel
  10. New Zealand
  11. Austria
  12. Australia
  13. Ireland
  14. Canada
  15. Germany
  16. United States
  17. United Kingdom

So why are Nordic countries the happiest? Regarding citizens’ subjective well-being, economic factors like GDP don’t matter as much as social ones do! This is likely due to The Nordic Model: Standards set and followed by Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden characterized by high living standards and low-income disparity merging free-market capitalism with a generous welfare system. The citizens of these countries all highly rate key factors for happiness:

  • Social support
  • Freedom
  • Generosity 
  • Trust in institutions

You can check out this video to learn more about the happiest countries in the world and how researchers came to their conclusions. 

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Are Women or Men Happier? 

Wondering how gender can affect happiness? Are women or men happier? Research shows when it comes to gender and sex, the results on who is happiest are mixed. 

Data from 160 countries showed that women worldwide report higher levels of life satisfaction than men yet report higher levels of daily stress.

A 2015 Gallup World Poll examined the life circumstances and individual happiness levels of men and women in 73 countries. In nearly all the countries, there was no significant difference between men’s and women’s happiness scores. 

When factoring men and women with the same life circumstances, women were happier in nearly a quarter of the countries. Researchers wondered if this could be due to country characteristics like economic development, religion, or women’s rights. They did not find evidence suggesting an association between the female-male happiness gap and country characteristics.

In the United States, researchers investigated men’s and women’s subjective health and happiness and how factors like socioeconomic status impact the sexes. They found that men’s health and happiness are strongly shaped by employment, while women’s are more significantly shaped by educational and marital status

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What Age are People Happiest?

Which generation is happiest? Is there a happiest age? Workplace researchers found that millennials (ages 25-40) showed to be the most fulfilled and the happiest in a 2021 survey. They asked full-time workers from various working generations: Generation Z (18-24), Millennials (25-40), Generation X (41-56), and Baby Boomers (57-75) about life and work satisfaction

  • Millennials said they were happiest at 57%.
  • Gen Xs rated second happiest at 52%.
  • Boomers and Gen Zs were the two least happy generations at 41% each.

What drives each of these generations’ long-term happiness? According to a research project, significant differences exist in what drives happiness across these generations.

  • Gen Z’s happiness is driven by video games and digital relationships 
  • Millennial happiness is driven by growing a healthy family  
  • Gen X’s happiness is driven by wealth, security, and children’s well-being
  • Boomer’s happiness is driven by the ability to support loved ones

What do all generations most frequently mention when asked what is essential to their happiness? Relationships with other people!

A recent survey asked people over 50 from various European countries about the times in their lives when they felt the most content and satisfied. They found that people report feeling happiest between 30 to 34 years old! Researchers interpret these findings to show that there is no nosedive in happiness after these years; happiness levels remain fairly constant and slowly decline as people grow older.

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Happiness is Good for Your Health

The 2019 annual review of public health outlined current research on happiness and mental and physical health. Researchers found that happiness lowers one’s risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and improves sleep, diet, body weight, and all sorts of other positive health factors.

When it comes to health and happiness, it is well-established that:

  • Happiness buffers stress by preserving health and encouraging longer life. 
  • Happiness positively affects life satisfaction by increasing mental well-being.
  • Health and happiness are positively correlated at all ecological and social system levels, such as individual, regional, and national. 
  • Lifestyle factors such as engaging in light to moderate-vigorous physical activity, making healthier dietary choices like eating more fruits and vegetables, and internal biological processes involving inflammatory, metabolic, and neuroendocrine pathways are critical to the link between happiness and health.  

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Why Does Having Friends Increase Happiness?

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, collecting data on people’s mental and physical health since 1938, aiming to uncover the factors leading to healthy and happy lives. Researchers found a strong association between happiness and having close relationships with friends and family.

The director of the study, Dr. Waldinger, concludes that personal connections stimulate our emotions and are an automatic mood booster, while isolation is a mood buster. Do you easily isolate yourself? Waldinger remarks it can be easy to get isolated and caught up in the day-to-day work and forget to see friends and family. Friendships don’t just make us happy; they protect our bodies from aging!

Waldinger remarks, “Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation.” It turns out that throughout the lifespan, close relationships triumph over money and fame and are what keep people happy throughout their lives. 

Interested in more information on happiness, friendships, and living the good life? Check out Waldinger’s TED talk.

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How Does Marriage Affect Happiness?

Does being married make one happier? What are the traits of happy couples? Researchers argue marriage provides individuals with economic and social stability, which is associated with improved health and more happiness than the experiences of unmarried people. 

However, there is some nuance regarding couples’ experiences, expressions, and social context within their relationship regarding happiness. More positive expressions and intimate experiences will enhance a couple’s happiness levels.

The ratio of positive interactions versus negative interactions is essential, as well. Relationship researcher and therapist John Gottman found that the magic ratio is five positive interactions to one negative interaction. Generally, a happy and stable marriage will have five or more positive interactions than one negative one.

These findings show us how it may not be the marriage itself but the intimate expressions, experiences, and social factors like economic and social stability generated by a close relationship like a marriage that makes people happier. Marriage can be thought of as a vehicle for happiness!

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Are Immigrants Happy?

Researchers found that when it comes to immigrants in developed countries, they typically struggle to assimilate in terms of the happiness standards set by the country they emigrated to. Happiness and life satisfaction were not significantly impacted by how long they stayed, and overall, joy was higher for natives than immigrants. 

The happiness ranking of a country also relates to the rising and falling immigration rates! Researchers found that immigration rates rise for happier nations and fall for unhappy ones, holding for the United States as well.  

Another study found that the destination country of choice significantly impacts migrants’ happiness. The more the motives and outcomes for emigrating equal, the happier immigrants feel. When it comes to the happiness of immigrants, the more their motives, such as wanting to move to another country to start a business, match their outcomes, like starting a business in a new country, the happier they will be!

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How Does Technology Affect Our Happiness?

Does having more Facebook friends make you happier? A recent study shows widespread social media use leads to reduced day-to-day happiness. Researchers mention that the Happiness and Friendship Paradox is a critical factor for reduced happiness. This is when people appear and feel less popular than their friends on social media. Negative feelings may be induced based on the feeling of lacking a robust social network. 

Studies have shown that frequent digital media users also report lower psychological well-being than those who use it less. Researchers suggest these findings may be misleading since most studies do not account for other outside influences that may impact well-being, such as trauma and genetics. They claim other mechanisms, such as displacement of more beneficial activities for well-being, such as face-to-face social interaction and upward social comparison, are to blame for low well-being. ​​These findings suggest one does not need to be a social butterfly to be happy, but it may help to have a few close friends.

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What Constitutes Happiness in the Workplace?

Workplace studies have shown a relationship between happiness and success in the workplace. Happy employees are likelier to have a higher annual salary than unhappy workers.

Researchers found that happiness correlates with workplace success. Happiness precedes this success, and cultivating positive feelings improves the workplace. Focusing on being more satisfied at work may lead to more success in the workplace.

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What is the Optimal Income For Happiness?

Does more money mean more happiness? The results vary! Economists have found joy determines economic outcomes since it increases productivity, impacts labor market performance, and predicts one’s future earnings.

Social research suggests that relative and absolute income significantly and positively correlated with happiness. Relative income is one’s income weighed against the current standards of the day and in relation to the population’s income. In contrast, absolute income is simply the total amount of income received. Higher-income at both levels is associated with higher levels of happiness!

Another study proposed a theory with the takeaway that it depends on how people conceptualize happiness regarding monetary success. Those who view happiness as having material and economic success will be happier than those who do not.

Researchers in applied economics analyzed 100,000 people from representative samples in 82 countries. They found that personal income significantly positively impacts emotional well-being. Still, more productive people substitute worked hours with non-working free time to enjoy their strongly preferred relationships, which may affect how positively one feels about their life. 

The happiness-income paradox proposes that happiness and wealth are not always strongly correlated. It turns out an individual’s happiness level and how satisfied one is with their life are impacted differently by income.

The Happiness-Income Paradox

The Happiness-Income Paradox

Source: Resolution of the Happiness–Income Paradox

When people acquire more income, their emotional well-being increases quickly and drastically. Life evaluation only moderately rises and continues to level out throughout time. 

Researchers used several studies to graph the two reference classes for the happiness-income relationship. 

Here’s the bottom line: 

  • Emotional well-being strongly correlates with income. 
  • Life evaluation is only moderately associated with income.

This article was written with the help of an AI-based research search engine: www.consensus.app, making it easier to deliver you the statistics on happiness! 

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