World Happiness Report 2015

Since it was first published in 2012, the World Happiness Report demonstrated that well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation’s economic and social development, and should be a key aim of policy. This year’s report looks at the changes in happiness levels in 158 countries, and examines the reasons behind the statistics. The World Happiness Report 2015 also comes in advance of three high-level negotiations that will give world leaders the opportunity to reshape the global agenda and move the world towards a sustainable development agenda that includes well-being as an essential element.

The world has come a long way since the first World Happiness Report in 2012. Happiness is increasingly considered a proper measure of social progress and a goal of public policy.

The year 2015 is a watershed for humanity, with the pending adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help guide the world community towards a more inclusive and sustainable pattern of global development. The UN member states called for SDGs on the occasion of the Rio+20 Summit, marking the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit. The SDGs will be adopted by heads of state at a special summit at the United Nations in September 2015, on the 70th anniversary of the UN. The concepts of happiness and well-being are very likely to help guide progress towards sustainable development.

Sustainable development is a normative concept calling for all societies to balance economic, social, and environmental objectives in a holistic manner. When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, forgetting about social and environmental objectives, the results can be adverse for human well-being. Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of sharply rising inequalities of income and grave damage to the natural environment. The SDGs are designed to help countries to achieve economic, social, and environmental objectives in harmony, thereby leading to higher levels of well-being for present and future generations.

The SDGs will include goals, targets and quantitative indicators. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in its recommendations on the selection of SDG indicators, has strongly recommended the inclusion of indicators of subjective well-being and positive mood affect to help guide and measure the progress towards the SDGs. Many governments and experts offer considerable support for the inclusion of happiness indicators in the SDGs. The final SDG indicator list will most likely be decided during 2015-6. We hope that the 2015 World Happiness Report once again underscores the fruitfulness of using happiness measurements for guiding policy making and for helping to assess the overall well-being in each society.

The 2015 World Happiness Report and supplemental files are available for download for free below.


This publication may be reproduced using the following reference: Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds. 2015. World Happiness Report 2015. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

World Happiness Report editing and management: Claire Bulger
Report Design: John Stislow and Stephanie Stislow
Cover Design: Sunghee Kim
Web Design: Ryan Swaney
Outreach: Mario Chamorro

ISBN: 978-0-9968513-2-9