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The World Happiness Report 2024 Reveals Links Between Happiness and Sustainable Development

Happiness and well-being are essential elements of sustainable development. The World Happiness Report 2024 provides valuable insights into these links.

Summary of key report findings:

  • Nordic countries continue to top the happiness rankings, with Finland and Denmark taking the top two spots (Chapter 2, Figure 2.1). These countries are known for their strong social safety nets, focus on work-life balance, and progressive environmental policies, all of which contribute to sustainable development.
  • Contrasting regional trends in adolescent well-being, with declines in North America and Western Europe but increases in Sub-Saharan Africa (Chapter 3). For example, adolescent life satisfaction decreased in North America and Australia-New Zealand, while it increased in Sub-Saharan Africa, widening the gap between these regions (Chapter 3, Figure 3.2C).
  • Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa experienced varied changes in happiness between 2006-2010 and 2021-2023. While countries like Togo and Benin saw substantial increases in happiness, others like Afghanistan and Egypt saw significant declines (Chapter 2, Figure 2.5).
  • Higher well-being is linked to reduced risk of dementia, underscoring the importance of investing in lifelong well-being (Chapter 4). Studies show that people with higher well-being have better memory and thinking abilities and are less likely to develop dementia (Chapter 4, Table 4.1).
  • Age, education, living arrangement satisfaction, and discrimination experiences influence life satisfaction in older adults in India (Chapter 5). More educated Indian older adults and those satisfied with their living arrangements have significantly higher life satisfaction (Chapter 5, Table 5.3).


How these findings relate to sustainable development:

  • The happiest countries show that investing in strong social and environmental policies can promote well-being and sustainability. By prioritizing citizens’ quality of life and protecting the planet, these countries lay the foundation for a sustainable future.
  • Divergent trends in adolescent well-being highlight the need to address global inequalities in health and education. Promoting youth well-being, especially in low-income countries, will be critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Fluctuations in happiness in Sub-Saharan African and North African countries suggest that progress towards sustainable development is uneven. Targeted investments in key areas such as poverty reduction, education, and health can help boost well-being and foster sustainable, inclusive growth in these regions.
  • Promoting lifelong well-being will support a healthier aging population, which is crucial for sustainable development. With the world’s population rapidly aging, maintaining older adults’ well-being will reduce the burden of disease and promote active, productive aging.
  • Combating discrimination and improving life satisfaction in older adults will foster more inclusive, equitable societies, in line with SDG 10 (reduced inequalities). Ensuring well-being for all, regardless of age or social status, is essential to leaving no one behind in sustainable development.


Recommended actions to improve well-being and sustainability:

  • Adopt a holistic approach to sustainable development that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet. This involves integrating well-being considerations into policy-making and balancing economic growth with social progress and environmental protection.
  • Invest in interventions that build resilience and well-being in youth, especially in lower-income regions. This could include school-based programs on psychosocial skills, adolescent mental health initiatives, and youth-friendly policies.
  • Address the underlying drivers of happiness inequalities between countries and regions. This requires concerted efforts to eradicate poverty, improve access to quality education and healthcare, promote gender equality, and reduce conflict and instability.
  • Integrate well-being enhancing strategies into public health policies and sustainable development initiatives. For example, promoting physical activity, social connections, and lifelong learning can foster well-being at all ages while contributing to sustainable, healthy communities.
  • Combat age-based discrimination and promote age-friendly environments and care. This can involve tackling ageist stereotypes, ensuring access to quality healthcare and social support, and creating inclusive spaces and programs for older adults.

Turritopsis AISBL is committed to leveraging insights from the World Happiness Report to advance well-being and sustainable development in economic and social life. Building happier, healthier societies is critical for tackling global challenges and securing a sustainable future for all. Well-being and sustainable development are inherently linked and must be pursued in tandem. By prioritizing well-being in our sustainable development efforts, we can create a future where everyone can thrive.

To read the full report, follow the link:

Reference :

Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R., Sachs, J. D., De Neve, J.-E., Aknin, L. B., & Wang, S. (Eds.). (2024).

World Happiness Report 2024. University of Oxford: Wellbeing Research Centre.

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