The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, powered by the Gallup World Poll data. The World Happiness Report reflects a worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and well-being as criteria for government policy. It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.

Life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll provide the basis for the annual happiness rankings. They are based on answers to the main life evaluation question. The Cantril ladder asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10 and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale. The rankings are from nationally representative samples over three years.

We use observed data on the six variables and estimates of their associations with life evaluations to explain the variation across countries. They include GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption. Our happiness rankings are not based on any index of these six factors – the scores are instead based on individuals’ own assessments of their lives, in particular, their answers to the single-item Cantril ladder life-evaluation question, much as epidemiologists estimate the extent to which life expectancy is affected by factors such as smoking, exercise, and diet.

The World Happiness Report and much of the growing international interest in happiness exist thanks to Bhutan. They sponsored Resolution 65/309, “Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development,” adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 July 2011, inviting national governments to “give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.”

On 2 April 2012, chaired by Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley and Jeffrey D. Sachs, the first World Happiness Report was presented to review evidence from the emerging science of happiness for the ‘Defining a New Economic Paradigm: The Report of the High-Level Meeting on Well-being and Happiness.’ On 28 June 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/281, proclaiming the 20 March International Day of Happiness to be observed annually. The World Happiness Report is released annually around March 20th as part of the International Day of Happiness celebration.

Published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the preparation of the World Happiness Report is at the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, with research support from the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics; the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia; the Wellbeing Research Centre at the University of Oxford; and the Helping and Happiness Lab at Simon Fraser University.

The editorial team includes three founding editors, John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey D. Sachs, and editors Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Lara B. Aknin, and Shun Wang. Sharon Paculor manages operations as Production Editor.