Canada slips to 15th place in annual World Happiness Report

Canada has slipped to 15th place in the annual World Happiness Report.

Down from 13th place last year, Canada now sits behind countries like Costa Rica, Kuwait and Austria.

“What’s happened in Canada and the United States is that over the past few years, those under 30 have become much less happy than they were 10 or a dozen years ago,” Canadian economist and World Happiness Report founding editor John Helliwell told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.

“There hasn’t been much change among the over 60s, and it’s not matched by anything by way of changes to their life circumstances, so it’s clearly an angst.”

Based on survey data from 140 countries, the report uses six key variables to help explain respondents’ life evaluations: GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity and perceptions of corruption. The 2024 report was also the first to include separate rankings by age, which revealed stark differences between young and old in several countries.

Helliwell, who is a professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics, believes negative news in English-language media – and especially social media – can be blamed in part for Canada’s fall on the happiness scale.

“We have just looked and said, ‘How does this work out in Quebec?’ Because Quebec is not so focused on the English-language media,” Helliwell explained. “And indeed, the drop among young people in Quebec is only half as great as that in the rest of Canada.”

According to the 2024 World Happiness Report, the top 20 happiest countries in the world are:

  1. Finland;
  2. Denmark;
  3. Iceland;
  4. Sweden;
  5. Israel;
  6. Netherlands;
  7. Norway;
  8. Luxembourg
  9. Switzerland;
  10. Australia;
  11. New Zealand;
  12. Costa Rica;
  13. Kuwait;
  14. Austria;
  15. Canada;
  16. Belgium;
  17. Ireland;
  18. Czechia;
  19. Lithuania; and
  20. United Kingdom

Finland held the No. 1 spot for the seventh year in a row. The United States fell from 15th place to 23rd. The bottom of the list was led by Afghanistan, Lebanon and Lesotho.

Helliwell believes it’s possible to change young people’s attitudes to make Canada a happier place.

“The good news is everybody out there is much more generous than you think they are,” Helliwell said. “So act as though you believe that. Act as though the stranger you meet in the street isn’t a stranger, but simply a friend you haven’t met yet. Smile at them. Talk to them. Make connections. And that’s the first step along the route to a happier community.”

Watch the full interview with John Helliwell at the top of the article.

You can read more about the World Happiness Report here.

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