(NEWSnet) – The United States has fallen out of the top 20 countries in the annual World Happiness Report, with the mood of those under age 30 pushing down its overall score.

Finland tops the list of more than 140 countries listed in the World Happiness Report, with Afghanistan remaining at the bottom.

The report was issued Wednesday in honor of the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness. The annual project is a partnership of Gallup World Poll, Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and WHR’s Editorial Board. The data is averaged over a three-year time frame so that one-time events provide less of a shift.

Happiness scores are based on participants’ review of their lives, considering the impact of loneliness vs. social interactions, positive feelings vs. negative ones, and the quality of life. It also considers life expectancy, freedom to make life choices and social supports within that population.

Noticeable changes in the country-specific data include the fact that the U.S. dropped out of the top 20 happiest countries for the first time. It usually ranked around numbers 15 to 18, but this time ranked 23rd

Germany also dropped out of the top 20.

Countries that moved up into the top 20 this year as compared to last year included Costa Rica, Kuwait and Lithuania.

The latest survey was the first in this series to also consider age demographics; and the research found noticeable differences in the generations. “Those born before 1965 are, on average, happier than those born since 1980,” the press release said.

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand “all have rankings for the young that are much worse than for the old, with the biggest discrepancies in the United States and Canada," the report said. “The reasons “probably involve some mix of generational and age effects.”

 

Lithuania ranked the highest in happiness for those under age 30; while Denmark ranked the highest in happiness for those age 60 and older. 

The researchers said that their reports, which have been issued every year since 2012, can help provide analytics for planning and policy making.

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