Israel is the fourth happiest country in the world, according to the 2023 World Happiness Report (WHR), which was released on Monday.
The publication ranks happiness on a national level each year. This year, Israel earned the fourth spot out of 109 ranked countries, an improvement over last year’s ranking of ninth.
The survey measures subjective well-being through how people report the quality of their lives to be. One main tool the report uses is called the Cantril ladder. The WHR explains that the ladder is essentially a 0-10 scale with “0” being the worst possible life and “10” being the best possible life.
The other main tools the report uses are called “positive affect” and “negative affect,” which essentially refer to positive and negative emotions, respectively.
“Positive affect is given by the average of individual yes or no answers about three emotions: laughter, enjoyment and interest,” the report explains. “Negative affect is given by the average of individual yes or no answers about three emotions: worry, sadness and anger.”
Topping the list is Finland, which leads by a significant margin. According to the report, this is the sixth consecutive year the Nordic nation has earned the top position.
Finland is followed by Denmark and Iceland.
The happiness gap
The WHR also measures inequality in levels of happiness within nations. It does this by calculating the gap between the top and bottom halves of each country. The measured gap is placed on a 10-point scale. The larger the figure, the bigger the gap and the more dramatic the inequality is.
Israeli society is diverse, and more than 20% of the Jewish state’s population is Arab. Additionally, numerous religious groups such as Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze are all represented. Nevertheless, the gap in happiness between the top and bottom halves of the country is remarkably small, despite the tensions between various social groups. Israel ranks seventh in this regard.
In this aspect, Israel follows Afghanistan in first place, then the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Belgium and Sweden.
Strikingly, every nation that precedes Israel in happiness equality is far more homogeneous by nearly every demographic metric available in the CIA World Factbook.
The WHR also includes data for the “State of Palestine.” For Palestinians, the picture is far less encouraging. They rank 99th on the list of happiest countries, beating out only a few nations such as Morocco, Iran and Turkey.
Additionally, they have one of the largest amounts of happiness inequality between the top and bottom halves of society. In regard to this happiness-gap ranking, the Palestinians come in at 89th.