U.S. hits new low in World Happiness Report

World Happiness country rankings, 2021–2024

MexicoData: World Happiness Report; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The U.S. hit an all-time low ranking in the annual World Happiness Report, tumbling eight spots to 23rd.

Why it matters: Some countries, like Finland and Denmark, consistently rank among the world’s happiest. The U.S. isn’t one of them.

The big picture: A steady supply of studies has found that Americans feel glum about issues ranging from loneliness to the economy and the country’s political leadership.

  • It’s the first time since the report launched 12 years ago that the U.S. did not rank among the world’s 20 happiest countries.

Between the lines: Gallup, whose data powers the World Happiness Report, pointed to “Americans under 30 feeling worse about their lives” for the steep drop.

  • Today’s young people report feeling less supported by friends and family, less free to make life choices, more stressed and less satisfied with their living conditions, Lara Aknin, an editor of the report, told Axios.
  • People under 30 today also feel less confident in government and have increased perceptions of corruption, she added.
  • The report also found that older people are now happier than young people in North America — the opposite of many other regions.

Zoom out: Many Americans have expressed low levels of trust in the political system and fears of political violence.

  • The pandemic also shed light on the high rates of loneliness hitting America’s younger generations.
  • The U.S. has also been combatting inflation rates that have affected everything from dining out to the real estate market.

World’s top 25 happiest countries, ranked:

1. Finland

2. Denmark

3. Iceland

4. Sweden

5. Israel

6. Netherlands

7. Norway

8. Luxembourg

9. Switzerland

10. Australia

11. New Zealand

12. Costa Rica

13. Kuwait

14. Austria

15. Canada

16. Belgium

17. Ireland

18. Czechia

19. Lithuania

20. United Kingdom

21. Slovenia

22. United Arab Emirates

23. United States

24. Germany

25. Mexico

Go deeper: Axios Finish Line: The world’s happiest countries

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Millions of seniors behind on student loans risk losing Social Security, lawmakers warn Biden

Illustration of money being sucked into the void of a black hole.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millions of older Americans are at risk of losing some of their Social Security benefits after defaulting on student loans, Democratic lawmakers said in a letter urging the Biden administration to act.

Why it matters: Seniors are one of the highest risk categories with reports showing nearly 40% of borrowers aged 65 or older in default. Federal programs that claw those funds back mean seniors lose as much as $2,500 in Social Security benefits annually.

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1 hour ago -Politics & Policy

Bibi hits back at Schumer in talk with GOP senators

US President Joe Biden (L) meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023
President Biden with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Hamas attacked Israel last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Senate Republicans on Wednesday that invading Rafah is necessary to defeat Hamas — and criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for Israeli elections as “wholly inappropriate.”

Why it matters: Netanyahu’s virtually briefed Republicans at a time when tensions have been rising between the Israeli prime minister and U.S. Democratic leaders over the war in Gaza.

  • Schumer declined a similar briefing from Netanyahu for Senate Democrats, saying that such briefings shouldn’t be partisan.

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Updated 1 hour ago -Economy

Federal Reserve holds interest rates steady, still projects cuts ahead

The Federal Reserve building in Washington D.C.
The Federal Reserve in Washington, DC on March 18. Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged Wednesday and officials tweaked projections in ways that suggest less rate-cutting may lie ahead than previously envisioned.

Why it matters: The Fed’s announcements suggest its plans to bring rates down this year remain intact, though the questions of “when” and “how much” are uncertain.

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