Czech Republic passes United States in 2021 World Happiness Index

The Czech Republic moves up to #18 in the latest world happiness rankings, topping the United States for the first time.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 20.03.2021 13:21 (updated on 21.03.2021)

Despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the Czech Republic has moved up to #18 on the official 2021 World Happiness Index, an annual ranking of perceived happiness among countries across the globe.

The 2021 rankings have been released today to coincide with World Happiness Day on March 20. The World Happiness Index has been released yearly since 2011.

Over the past decade, happiness in the Czech Republic seems has continued a dramatic rise.

In the 2013 Index, the country ranked #39 on the list. The Czech Republic cracked the top 30 in 2016 and then the top 20 in 2019.

This year's rankings, which combine an aggregate happiness score of the last three years, put the Czech Republic ahead of the United States at #19, and just below the United Kingdom at #19.

According to 2020 scores alone, however, the Czech Republic rates all the way up at #16.

The happiness scores are determined through surveys conducted by Gallup World Poll, and one question in particular. Respondents are asked to think of a ladder with their best possible life being a "10" and the worst a "0", and then rate their current life on that scale.

Sub-figures of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and perception of corruption are estimated to help explain the happiness scores, but do not actually impact the scores themselves.

About 1,000 people are surveyed from each country included in the rankings.

Czech respondents, on average, rated their lives at about 6.9 in 2020. While this was slightly lower than 2017-2019, it was less of a decrease than was seen in other countries, resulting in the Czech Republic moving up in this year's rankings.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the Happiness Index conducted phone interviews for the first time across a number of countries including the Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia.

Slovakia has also risen dramatically in the World Happiness Index over recent years, and now ranks at #34 in the 2021 list. Germany (#13) and Austria (#10) both rated highly, while Poland (#44) ranked well below the Czech Republic.

Scandanavian countries continue to dominate the top of the list, with Finland ranked first, Denmark second, Iceland fourth and Norway sixth. New Zealand (#9) was the only country outside of Europe in the top 10.

At the other end of the list, respondents in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda rated their lives the worst in 2020. A total of 149 countries were included in the index.

This year's World Happiness Report paid special attention to the effects of COVID-19 on happiness in countries around the world. 

"The World Happiness Report 2021 focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared," the report states.

"Our aim was two-fold, first to focus on the effects of COVID-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives, and second to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. In particular, we try to explain why some countries have done so much better than others."