World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report (WHR) is a ranking of happiness in 149 countries published by United Nations (UN). The happiness scores (i.e. the ladder score) and rankings use data from the Gallup World Poll (GWP). The survey revolves around citizens' self-perceived happiness. The life factor variables incorporated in the analysis mirror the factors commonly cited in research literature to elucidate variations in life satisfaction at the national level.

The ladder score of a country is the national average response to the question of life evaluations. The English wording of the question is:

“Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”

The columns following the happiness score estimate the extent to which each of six factors – economic production, social support, life expectancy, freedom, absence of corruption, and generosity – contribute to elevating life satisfaction in each country compared to Dystopia, a hypothetical nation reflecting the lowest global averages for these factors. While these factors don't influence the overall score assigned to each country, they do provide insight into the varying rankings among nations.

The six factors are:

  • Log GDP per capita - the statistics of GDP per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) at constant 2017 international dollar prices are from the October 14, 2020 update of the World Development Indicators (WDI).
  • Social support - the national average of responses to the GWP question “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”
  • Healthy life expectancy at birth - Healthy life expectancies at birth are based on the data extracted from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Health Observatory data repository.
  • Freedom to make life choices - the national average of responses to the GWP question “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?”
  • Generosity - the residual of regressing national average of response to the GWP question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?” on GDP per capita.
  • Perceptions of corruption - the national average of the survey responses to two questions in the GWP: “Is corruption widespread throughout the government or not” and “Is corruption widespread within businesses or not?”.

The original source data is available here from

 There are 2 datasets available with this model:

  • world-happiness-report-2021.csv: contains information about happiness metrics in 2021.
  • world-happiness-report.csv: contains historical information about happiness metrics from 2005-2020.

The following additional columns in the 2021 report estimate the affect the factors have on the overall happiness level of a country:

  • Explained by: Log GDP per capita
  • Explained by: Social support
  • Explained by: Healthy life expectancy
  • Explained by: Freedom to make life choices
  • Explained by: Generosity
  • Explained by: Perceptions of corruption

Meanwhile two additional columns appear in the Happiness record for 2005-2020:

  • Positive affect - defined as the average of three positive affect measures in GWP: happiness, laugh and enjoyment.
  • Negative affect - defined as the average of three negative affect measures in GWP: worry, sadness and anger.

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