Happiness (Civ5)

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20xHappiness5 Happiness is a measure of people's feelings of contentment within an empire. We could also liken it to the 'approval' rating of the leader (you). It is counteracted by Unhappiness (Civ5) 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 of which depends the normal functioning of a civilization.

It is worth noting that 'real' problems, like food shortages or slow cultural growth don't bear on the level of contentment of the people - more important factors are instead the overcrowding of cities, or such visibly vicious acts like 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 HappinessEdit

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

An empire with 20xHappiness5 Happiness of zero or greater is considered happy. Happy civilizations grow as normal, and each turn's 20xHappiness5 Happiness value is added to the empire's 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 20xHappiness5 Happiness below zero is unhappy. An unhappy empire causes each city's food surplus to be reduced by 75%, drastically reducing population growth. In Brave New World, there are additional effects; see below for more info.

A civilization with 20xHappiness5 Happiness of -10 or lower is very unhappy. A very unhappy empire does not grow at all, suffers a 20xProduction5 Production penalty, receives a nasty combat penalty (-33%) for all its units, and cannot train settlers.

When 20xHappiness5 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 (Civ5) Unhappiness in Brave New World, see below.

Happiness SourcesEdit

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

  • Luxury Resources: For every different luxury resource of which a civilization possesses at least one count, the empire receives +4 20xHappiness5 Happiness.
  • Buildings: Circus, Colosseum, Theatre (Zoo in Brave New World), and Stadium are the main options, but there are also some other choices, such as the Stone Works.
  • Wonders: Many wonders provide varying amounts of 20xHappiness5 Happiness.
  • Social Policies: Almost all Social Policy trees have some way of boosting a civilization's 20xHappiness5 Happiness. Common methods include granting 20xHappiness5 Happiness from certain buildings and reducing the Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness generated by population.
  • Natural Wonders: Discovering each Natural Wonder grants a permanent +1 20xHappiness5 Happiness bonus.

Unhappiness CausesEdit

Very unhappy empire (Civ5)

An example of a very unhappy civilization

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

  • Number of Cities: Each city in an empire adds +3 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness.
  • Population: A living person is an unhappy person. Each of a civilization's citizens automatically generates +1 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness.
  • Puppet Cities: Each puppet city in an empire adds the same amount of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness that a normal city does.
  • Annexed Cities: Each annexed city in an empire produces roughly twice the amount of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness of a normal city. The exact amount varies. This penalty can only be removed by constructing a Courthouse in the city.
  • Razing Captured Cities: Razing a city creates the same amount of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness as annexing a city. This Unhappiness (Civ5) 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, or currently razed city generates 1.33 Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness, 33% more than a regular citizen.
  • BNW-only 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) Unhappiness. After all, the grass is always greener on the 'other' side!

Brave New WorldEdit

20xHappiness5 Happiness has been reworked in the Brave New World expansion pack, with the introduction of the new Ideology mechanics, including the Public Opinion. If its level is not 'Content', it now adds directly to Unhappiness (Civ5) 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 BNW is the effects of an Unhappy empire have been changed - now each point of Unhappiness (Civ5) Unhappiness below 0 gives a penalty of -2% 20xProduction5 Production and 20xGold5 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 to your Food Basket only 1/4 of the normal amount you would otherwise add).

At -10 ("Very Unhappy"), 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 and technology. 20xProduction5 Production, 20xGold5 Gold and Combat Strength continue to lower steadily.

Finally, when your empire's Unhappiness (Civ5) 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 closest one with the Preferred Ideology.

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 an 'Unhappy' and '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 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.

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

Also in Brave New World, you will have to deal with Public Opinion where your civ will be influenced by other Civs with higher 20xTourism5 Tourism rates than your own. If you aren't playing a Culture civ, you might find your Happiness rates 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 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 Happiness Note
Ancient Circus +2 City must have horses or ivory nearby
Ancient Stone works +1 City must have an improved marble or 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 +2) Requires Theatre or Zoo
Wonders that cause happiness
Wonder Happiness Requirement
Circus Maximus +5 Must have a Colosseum in every city
Chichen Itza +4 Civil Service
Notre Dame +10 Physics
Forbidden Palace -10% unhappiness in non-occupied cities Banking
Taj Mahal +4 Architecture
Neuschwanstein +2, +1 from every castle Railroad
Eiffel Tower +5, +1 per two additional policies adopted (BNW-only +5) Radio
Prora BNW-only +2, +1 per two additional policies adopted Flight
Social policies that deal with happiness
Policy Branch Era Requirements Effect
Aristocracy Tradition None None +1 happiness for every 10 citizens in a city
Monarchy Tradition None None +1 gold and -1 unhappiness for every 2 citizens in the capital
Meritocracy Liberty None Citizenship +1 happiness for each city connected to the capital with a trade route and -5% unhappiness for citizens in non-occupied cities
Military Caste Honor None Discipline +1 happiness for each city with a unit in garrison
Professional Army Honor None Military Caste Gold cost of upgrading units reduced 33% and +1 happiness from every defensive building (Walls, Castle, Arsenal, Military Base)
Cultural diplomacy Patronage Medieval Scholasticism Happiness from luxuries gifted by City-states increased by 100%
Protectionism Commerce Medieval Mercantilism +2 happiness from each luxury resource
Humanism Rationalism Renaissance None +1 happiness from every university, observatory and public school
Democracy (pre-BNW-only) Freedom Renaissance None -50% unhappiness from specialist population
Police state (pre-BNW-only) Autocracy Industrial Militarism +3 happiness from courthouses, build courthouses in half the time

Note: Adopting Order generates 1 happiness per city (not in BNW-only).

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

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

Civilization V


BuildingsCivsImprovementsPromotionsResourcesSocial PoliciesTechnologiesTerrainUnitsWonders


AncientClassicalMedievalRenaissanceIndustrialModernFuture† • Atomic‡ • Information


City-StateCultureFoodGoldGreat PeopleHappinessProductionReligionScienceTourism

Guides etc.

AchievementsMathematicsModdingMajor Patches

† Only in vanilla Civ5
‡ Only in Gods & Kings and Brave New World

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