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An example of a very unhappy civilization

20xHappiness5.png Happiness is a measure of people's feelings of contentment within an empire. It can also be interpreted as the citizens' "approval" rating of the leader (you). It is counteracted by Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness, people's discontent or disapproval of your rule, which naturally increases as the game progresses. The two stats form a balance, which changes constantly and therefore affects the functioning of a civilization.

It is worth noting that "real" problems like food shortages or slow cultural growth have no bearing on the level of contentment of the people - more important factors are instead the overcrowding of cities, or such visibly vicious acts as conquering foreign cities and razing them, which have to be countered by the state with the old principle: "Keep people entertained and distract them with shiny baubles to make them forget their problems!"

Levels of Happiness[]

There are three levels of 20xHappiness5.png Happiness: happy, unhappy, and very unhappy.

An empire with 20xHappiness5.png Happiness of zero or greater is considered happy. Happy civilizations grow as normal, and each turn's 20xHappiness5.png Happiness value is added to the empire's 20xGoldenAge5.png Golden Age counter. We could say that such empires are well governed internally, although that doesn't necessarily mean that they will be successful or competitive.

A civilization with 20xMalcontent5.png Happiness below zero is unhappy. An unhappy empire causes each city's Food Food surplus to be reduced by 75%, drastically reducing 20xPopulation5.png Population growth. In Brave New World, there are additional effects; see below for more info.

A civilization with Unhappiness (Civ5).png Happiness of -10 or lower is very unhappy. A very unhappy empire does not grow at all, suffers a Production Production penalty, receives a nasty combat penalty (-33%) for all its units, and cannot train Settlers (though they can still use their existing Settlers to found new cities).

When Unhappiness (Civ5).png Happiness drops to -20, the civilization's cities go into revolt, and rebels start appearing throughout the empire, based on the number of cities. The rebels are similar to Barbarians, but appear in groups. Once a group of rebels spawns, another group will not appear for a while. Again, for the exact effects of Unhappiness in Brave New World, see below.

Happiness Sources[]

In order to counteract Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness and continue an empire's growth, 20xHappiness5.png Happiness must be increased. There are many ways to do so.

  • Luxury resources: For every different luxury resource which a civilization has access to (through possessing an improved luxury resource, trading with another civ, or alliance with a CityStateIcon5.png city-state with access to the resource), the empire receives +4 Global 20xHappiness5.png Happiness.
  • Buildings: The Circus, Colosseum, Theatre, BNW-only.png Zoo, and Stadium are the main options, but there are also some other choices, such as the Stone Works. These provide Local 20xHappiness5.png Happiness.
  • Wonders: Many wonders provide varying amounts of (often Global) 20xHappiness5.png Happiness.
  • Social policies: Almost all social policy trees have some way of boosting a civilization's 20xHappiness5.png Happiness. Common methods include granting 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from certain buildings and reducing the Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness generated by 20xPopulation5.png Population.
  • Natural wonders: Each natural wonder grants a permanent +1 Global 20xHappiness5.png Happiness bonus to all civs which have discovered it.
  • GodsKings5 clear.png Mercantile neutral.png Mercantile city-states: Each mercantile city-state provides +3 Global 20xHappiness5.png Happiness to each civilization with which it is at least Friends.

Global vs. Local Happiness[]

Happiness sources are divided loosely into Local and Global. The main difference is that while Global sources contribute to Happiness unconditionally, Local sources can only contribute up to the Population number of the respective city. This means that if a city has 5 20xPopulation5.png Population and sources of local happiness adding up to 8 20xHappiness5.png Happiness, the actual amount that will be contributed to your empire's 20xHappiness5.png Happiness will be 5, not 8.

The logic behind this distinction is sound: Sources of Local Happiness are the most common entertainment buildings (Circus, Colosseum, etc.), which provide shallow, low-level amusement for the masses. On the other hand, sources of Global Happiness are Luxuries, Social Policies, etc., which all provide deeper, more meaningful reasons for your empire to be happy.

Unhappiness Causes[]

Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness directly subtracts from 20xHappiness5.png Happiness, and increases as a civilization grows. There are several sources of Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness.

  • Number of Cities: Each city in an empire adds Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness as follows:
World size Duel Tiny Small Standard Large Huge
Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness per city +3 +3 +3 +3 +2.4 +1.8
  • 20xPopulation5.png Population: A living person is an unhappy person. Each of a civilization's 20xPopulation5.png Citizens automatically generates +1 Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness. This is also true for Engineer (Civ5).png Specialists, despite their unhappiness being shown separately from that of the rest of the population.
  • Puppet Cities: Each puppet city in an empire adds the same amount of Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness that a normal city does.
  • Annexed Cities: Each annexed city in an empire produces more Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness than a normal city, as detailed in the table below. This penalty can only be removed by constructing a Courthouse in the city.[1]
Map size Duel Tiny Small Standard Large Huge
Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness per annexed city +5 +5 +5 +5 +4 +3
Penalty compared to normal city +2 +2 +2 +2 +1.6 +1.2

  • Razing Captured Cities: Razing a city creates the same amount of Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness as annexing a city. This Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness, however, diminishes during the razing process, and disappears entirely once the city is destroyed.
  • Population of Annexed or currently razed Cities: Each citizen in an annexed city, or in a city being razed, generates 1.34 Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness instead of the usual 1.
  • BNW-only.png Public Opinion: Only possible once you have adopted an Ideology. If another civilization with differing Ideology has stronger cultural influence on your empire than yours, your Public Opinion starts generating Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness.

Brave New World[]

20xHappiness5.png Happiness has been reworked in the Brave New World expansion pack, with the introduction of the new Ideology mechanics, including the Public Opinion. This is now a new potential source of Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness: in case its level is not "Content", it now adds directly to Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness, and the exact amount of points added depends either on the number of cities, or the number of population, whichever is greater.

The first thing on Happiness in Brave New World is the effects of an Unhappy empire have been changed - now each point of 20xMalcontent5.png Unhappiness below 0 gives a penalty of -2% Production Production and Gold Gold output (applies directly to the output of each city), as well as -2% Combat Strength for all units. Effect on city growth is the same as before (as if you were adding only 1/4 of the normal amount you would otherwise add to your Food Basket).

At the Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness level of -10 ("Very Unhappy"), 20xPopulation5.png Population growth stops completely, you can't train Settlers anymore, and rebellions erupt at regular intervals in the form of "Barbarian" units appearing right near a city of yours, using your most up-to-date units based on your technological progress. Production Production, Gold Gold and Combat Strength continue to lower steadily.

Finally, when your empire's Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness reaches -20, given your Public Opinion is low, some of your cities may start to revolt and change their allegiance to other empires following their Preferred Ideology. The effect is as if the other empire suddenly acquired the city in question. Border cities are most likely to defect, and the civilization they go to is the one with the Preferred Ideology whose Capital Capital is closest to the city.

Clearly, this presents a grave danger for your empire, while at the same time the new gradual worsening of the situation feels more natural (as opposed to simply having either an "Unhappy" or a "Very Unhappy" stage).


Keeping your empire happy is difficult, but important. The main thing you need to remember is that your empire gets gradually unhappy, as time goes - whether it is from 20xPopulation5.png Population growth, or due to more cities being founded or conquered. To counter this, the first thing you need to do in the first stage of the game, is get access to as many luxury resources as you can get hold onto. Later, you'll have to depend more on buildings and Social Policies, especially when Ideology kicks in. Keep in mind, however, that the Local Happiness produced by buildings (which is the most accessible way to raise 20xHappiness5.png Happiness) is limited in most cases to +6 per city (+8 or 9 with access to certain resources, which in turn allows construction of more 20xHappiness5.png Happiness-boosting buildings), and you will have to procure additional ways to keep your people happy. Try to think ahead of time so as to avoid crisis periods.

Try to keep your empire happy at all times, but don't despair if your empire's 20xHappiness5.png Happiness becomes negative for a few turns - it's not the end of the world. Try to negotiate for some more luxuries, or build 20xHappiness5.png Happiness-boosting buildings, and think of some long-term strategy to boost your 20xHappiness5.png Happiness (such as building up to a particular Social Policy or building a particular Wonder). Or, try to eliminate any extra Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness, for example from Occupied cities.

Acquiring the favor of CityStateIcon5.png city-states is a useful strategy: not only do city-states provide all their luxury resources to their ally, but Mercantile neutral.png mercantile city-states also provide +3 20xHappiness5.png Happiness to each civilization which is at least Mercantile friendly.png Friends with them. Cultured neutral.png Cultured city-states can also make useful Cultured friendly.png friends and Cultured allied.png allies since they aid in the acquisition of Social policies (some of which are key to maintaining a 20xHappiness5.png happy civilization).

In Brave New World, you will have to deal with Public Opinion where your civ will be influenced by other civs with higher Tourism Tourism rates than your own. If you aren't playing a culture civ, you might find your 20xHappiness5.png Happiness suffering because of this.

One solution is to try to improve your tourism rate slightly to overcome this, but you may also have to adopt some of the 20xHappiness5.png Happiness-oriented tenets of your Ideology in order to even out these losses. If it gets absolutely unmanageable, you can adopt the Ideology of the person presently leading in tourism, but this will cost you all of your Ideological Tenets thus far, and so it is not advisable unless you are desperate.

Buildings That Generate Happiness
Era Building 20xHappiness5.png Happiness Note
Ancient Circus +2 City must have Horses Horses or Ivory Ivory nearby
Ancient Stone Works +1 City must have an improved Marble Marble or Stone Stone resource nearby, city cannot be on plains
Classical Burial Tomb +2 Egyptian unique building
Classical Colosseum +2
Renaissance Satrap's Court +2 Persian unique building
Renaissance Ceilidh Hall +3 Celtic unique building
Renaissance Theatre +3 Requires Colosseum (unavailable in Brave New World)
Renaissance Zoo +2 Requires Colosseum (Brave New World only)
Modern Stadium +4 (BNW-only.png +2) Requires Theatre or Zoo
Wonders that cause happiness
Wonder 20xHappiness5.png Happiness Requirement
Circus Maximus +5 global Must have a Colosseum in every city
Chichen Itza +4 local Civil Service
Notre Dame +10 global Physics
Forbidden Palace -10% Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness in non-occupied cities Banking
Taj Mahal +4 local Architecture
Neuschwanstein +2 local, +1 global from every Castle Railroad
Eiffel Tower +5, +1 per two additional policies adopted (BNW-only.png +5 Global) Radio
Prora BNW-only.png +2, +1 per two additional policies adopted (both global) Flight
Social policies that deal with happiness
Policy Tree Era Requirements Effect
Aristocracy Tradition None None +15% Production Production when building Wonders (any Era) and +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness for every 10 20xPopulation5.png Citizens in a City.
Monarchy Tradition None None +1 Gold Gold and -1 Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness for every 2 20xPopulation5.png Citizens in the Capital Capital.
Meritocracy Liberty None Citizenship +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness for each City you own connected to the Capital Capital and -5% Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness from 20xPopulation5.png Citizens in non-occupied Cities.
Military Caste Honor None Discipline Each City with a garrison increases local city 20xHappiness5.png Happiness by 1 and Culture Culture by 2.
Professional Army (pre-BNW-only.png) Honor None Military Caste Gold Gold cost of upgrading units reduced 33% and +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from every defensive building (Walls, Castle, Arsenal, Military Base)
Cultural Diplomacy Patronage Classical Scholasticism Quantity of Resources gifted by City-States increased by 100%. 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from gifted Luxuries increased by 50%.
Protectionism Commerce Medieval Mercantilism +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from each Luxury Resource
BNW-only.png +2 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from each Luxury Resource
Naval Tradition BNW-only.png Exploration Medieval None +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness for each Harbor, Seaport, or Lighthouse
Humanism (pre-BNW-only.png) Rationalism Renaissance None +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from every University, Observatory and Public School
Democracy (pre-BNW-only.png) Freedom Renaissance None -50% unhappiness from specialist population
Police State (pre-BNW-only.png) Autocracy Industrial Militarism +3 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from Courthouses, build Courthouses in half the time

In vanilla Civilization V and Gods & Kings, adopting Order generates 1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness per city.

There are also numerous tenets in each Ideology which boost Happiness, including Universal Healthcare which is available to all three.

Ideological tenets that deal with happiness
Ideological Tenet Ideology Level Effects
Universal Healthcare All 1 +1 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness from each National Wonder.
Capitalism Freedom 1 +1 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness per Mint, Bank and Stock Exchange.
Urbanization Freedom 2 +1 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness per Water Mill, Hospital and Medical Lab.
Universal Suffrage Freedom 2 Unhappiness (Civ5).png Unhappiness from Specialists is halved. Golden Ages last 50% longer.
Socialist Realism Order 1 +2 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness from each Monument. Build Monuments in half the usual time.
Young Pioneers Order 1 +1 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness per Workshop, Factory and Solar/Nuclear/Hydro Plant.
Academy of Sciences Order 2 +1 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness per Observatory, Public School and Research Lab.
Fortified Borders Autocracy 1 +1 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness per Castle, Arsenal and Military Base.
Militarism Autocracy 2 +2 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness per Barracks, Armory and Military Academy.
Police State Autocracy 2 +3 20xHappiness5.png Local Happiness from each Courthouse. Build Courthouses in half the usual time.
Religious beliefs that deal with happiness
Religious belief Belief type Effects
Goddess of Love Pantheon +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from cities with Population of 6+
Sacred Waters Pantheon +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness from cities on rivers
Ceremonial Burial Founder +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness for every City following this religion
BNW-only.png +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness for every 2 Cities following this religion
Peace Loving Founder +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness for every 8 followers of this religion in non-enemy foreign cities
Asceticism Follower Shrines provide +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness in cities with 3 followers
Cathedrals Follower Use Faith Faith to purchase Cathedrals (+1 Faith Faith, +1 Culture Culture, +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness, +1 Great Work of Art slot)
Mosques Follower Use Faith Faith to purchase Mosques (+3 Faith Faith, +2 Culture Culture, +1 20xHappiness5.png Happiness)
Pagodas Follower Use Faith Faith to purchase Pagodas (+2 Faith Faith, +2 Culture Culture, +2 20xHappiness5.png Happiness)
Peace Gardens Follower Gardens provide +2 20xHappiness5.png Happiness
Religious Center Follower Temples provide +2 20xHappiness5.png Happiness in cities with 5 followers

GodsKings5 clear.png Valid only in the Gods & Kings expansion pack.

BNW-only.png Valid only in the Brave New World expansion pack.


Civilization V [edit]
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