Global happiness index: India ranked 126th, Finland retains top spot

India was ranked 126th out of 143 nations in a global happiness index released on Wednesday which noted that older age is associated with higher life satisfaction in the world’s most populous country.

Finland emerged as the happiest country in the world, topping the World Happiness Report 2024, the seventh successive year that the country has occupied the top spot on the list.

The other of the top 10 countries are Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Australia.

India is ranked 126th on the list, behind countries such as Libya, Iraq, Palestine and Niger, according to the findings announced on Wednesday to mark the UN’s International Day of Happiness.

The World Happiness Report is a partnership of Gallup, the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the WHR’s Editorial Board.

The young in India are the happiest while those in lower middle rung are the least happy.

The US (23rd) has fallen out of the top 20 for the first time since the World Happiness Report was first published in 2012, driven by a large drop in the well-being of Americans under 30.

Afghanistan remains bottom of the overall rankings as the world’s ‘unhappiest’ nation. Pakistan is ranked 108th on the list.

The report said that older age is associated with higher life satisfaction in India, refuting some claims that the positive association between age and life satisfaction only exists in high-income nations.

On average, older men in India are more satisfied with life than older women but when taking all other measures into account, older women report higher life satisfaction than their male counterparts, it said.

In India, older adults with secondary or higher education and those of higher social castes report higher life satisfaction than counterparts without formal education and those from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

India’s older population is the second largest worldwide, with 140 million Indians aged 60 and over, second only to its 250 million Chinese counterparts. Additionally, the average growth rate for Indians aged 60 and above is three times higher than the overall population growth rate of the country, the report said.

Satisfaction with living arrangements, perceived discrimination, and self-rated health emerge as the top three predictors of life satisfaction for India in this study, the report said.

We found that older men, those in the higher age groups, currently married, and those who were educated, report higher life satisfaction compared to their respective peers. Lower satisfaction with living arrangements, perceived discrimination, and poor self-rated health were important factors associated with low life satisfaction among older Indians, it said.

The findings of this study indicate that strengthening family networks to ensure a comfortable living arrangement for older adults, men, widowed, and those without formal education in particular, and bolstering social networks to reduce discrimination may enhance well-being in older age, it noted.

The report added that Serbia (37th) and Bulgaria (81st) have had the biggest increases in average life evaluation scores since they were first measured by the Gallup World Poll in 2013.

The next two countries showing the largest increases in life evaluations are Latvia (46th) and Congo (Brazzaville) (89th), with rank increases of 44 and 40 places, respectively, between 2013 and 2024.

For the first time, the report gives separate rankings by age group, in many cases varying widely from the overall rankings. Lithuania tops the list for children and young people under 30, while Denmark is the world’s happiest nation for those 60 and older.