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Top 10 Happiest Countries: Do You Live in One of the Most Prosperous Countries?

Top 10 Happiest Countries: Do You Live in One of the Most Prosperous Countries?Chances are, if you’re in a first-world country in the world, you’re doing pretty good.

That’s according to yet another one of these “happiness indexes” we’ve seen crop up over the past decade. This one is actually called the Legatum Prosperity Index, and purports to measure a country’s overall prosperity based upon a number of characteristics.

So do you live in one of the world’s most prosperous, and therefore happiest, countries?

The top 10 list of the happiest countries for 2013 — the Legatum Prosperity Index — just published by the Legatum Group, which was founded by New Zealand billionaire Christopher Chandler:

  1. Norway
  2. Switzerland
  3. Canada
  4. Sweden
  5. New Zealand
  6. Denmark
  7. Australia
  8. Finland
  9. Netherlands
  10. Luxembourg

Oh, wait… Is the United States not in the top 10? Not this year; it dropped to number 11, largely because of the economic, entrepreneurship & opportunity factors that go to make up this list, and a decline in confidence in our financial system (given, you know, all the scandals and government bailouts), a decline in our GDP growth as well as a decline in high-tech exports.

The Legatum Prosperity Index is made up of 8 sub-indices that include: social capital, personal freedom, safety & security, health, education, governance, entrepreneurship & opportunity, and economy.

It may surprise most Americans that out of the top 10 countries, seven of them are in Europe. Many Americans don’t usually look at Europe as a font of prosperity.

The next 10 countries (11 through 20) on the prosperity list are:

  • United States
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • United Kingdom
  • Belgium
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • France

Not surprising to anyone is the makeup of the bottom of the list; nearly all of them are war-torn or have suffered decades’ worth of poverty:

  • Chad
  • Central African Republic
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Afghanistan
  • Burundi
  • Togo
  • Yemen
  • Guinea
  • Haiti
  • Angola

Norway is the tops when it comes to the economy (followed by Switzerland), while Luxembourg heads the list for health (the U.S. is #2). Surprisingly New Zealand and Australia top the list for education.

Looking for opportunity or to become an entrepreneur? Head over to Sweden, Denmark or Finland, all of which top that list. Hong Kong & Iceland rate the highest in safety and security, while Canada and Norway top the list for personal freedom (the United States places 16 here).

The United States’ struggling economy places it #24 on the list on the economy sub-index — reflecting the reality that most Americans experience. As we begin 2014, the economy doesn’t feel any stronger than it did a year ago, although the politicians and pundits keep telling us otherwise.

The data come from a variety of sources, including survey of each country’s residents — making it perhaps more subjective than some would like. But also probably a more accurate reflection of the “reality on the ground” as most people perceive it — not based upon some economist’s forecast or data that seem to be disconnected from reality.

Check out the list for yourself and tell us what you think about it.

Top 10 Happiest Countries: Do You Live in One of the Most Prosperous Countries?

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Top 10 Happiest Countries: Do You Live in One of the Most Prosperous Countries?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
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Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 9 Jan 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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