Older adults in 9 countries happier than those in U.S.

Much like the overall World Happiness Report, Nordic countries dominate list for people 60 and older

The results are in, and people 60 or older are the happiest in the entire United States. That being said, there are nine other countries where older adults are happier than Americans.

That’s according to the latest World Happiness Report, which takes a deep-dive into the joyfulness of each stage of a person’s life. The report revealed older adults are happiest in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, in that order. New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia were ranked sixth through ninth, respectively, with American older adults trailing in 10th place.

The countries where older adults are the happiest are not necessarily as inviting for younger people, however. The United States, for instance, didn’t even break the top 20 for overall happiness.

“The top 10 countries have remained much the same since before COVID,” according to the report. “Finland is still top, with Denmark now very close, and all five Nordic countries in the top 10. But in the next 10, there is more change, with the transition countries of Eastern Europe rising in happiness (especially Czechia, Lithuania and Slovenia). Partly for this reason the United States and Germany have fallen to 23 and 24 in the rankings.”

So what determines what makes older adults are the happiest? It’s complicated.

“It’s not just about what income you have,” John Helliwell, founding editor of the report and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia Vancouver School of Economics, told AARP. “It’s what education you have access to, what health care you have access to, how safe are the streets in which you walk, how friendly are your neighbors, do you have access to equality of regard, regardless of your color, religion, or background?”

Nordic countries have figured that out, he said, and that’s why they top the list.