Thursday, July 03, 2008

World's Happiest Country

A study comparing the happiness of countries around the world done by the National Science Foundation has come to a different conclusion from the Happy Planet Index, which found that Vanuatu was the world's happiest country. This new study says Denmark is the happiest. (Both studies ranked Zimbabwe at the bottom.) You can follow a link on this page to a full listing of the countries surveyed by the National Science Foundation (only 97 of them, but they say that covers 90% of the world's population).

Of course it all depends on how you define happiness. The Happy Planet Index uses three factors - ecological footprint, life-satisfaction, and life expectancy. In the National Science Foundation study, called the World Values Survey, they simply asked citizens of various countries how happy they were. NSF researchers conclude that people are more likely to be happy in prosperous democracies that are at peace. They also say that happiness is increasing worldwide; they have been doing their survey since 1981.

I find attempts to compare the world's countries to one another fascinating, especially when they involve something as subjective and difficult to measure as happiness. Someone with whom I was discussing this news story commented that Denmark's suicide rate is very high. I found this link which seems to support that statement. It looks as though there are nearly twice as many suicides per 100,000 people in Denmark, the happiest country, as in Zimbabwe, the most unhappy country.

How happy are you? Take this test to find out. I took it but unfortunately the scoring feature doesn't seem to be working and I have to say I'm not very happy about that. Seriously, though, that page has several more links to interesting reading about happiness, including information about Bhutan, a country whose stated priority is "Gross National Happiness."

1 comment:

theorivas said...

I rated highly satisfied, but that survey was a little disappointing. I don't think that it would really reveal anything that one didnt already know about oneself.