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Saturday, July 31, 2010

THE WORLD'S HAPPIEST COUNTRIES

by Francesca Levy



By and large, rich countries are happier - and that's no coincidence


Quantifying happiness isn't an easy task. Researchers at the Gallup World Poll went about it by surveying thousands of respondents in 155 countries, between 2005 and 2009, in order to measure two types of well-being.

First they asked subjects to reflect on their overall satisfaction with their lives, and ranked their answers using a "life evaluation" score from 1 to 10. Then they asked questions about how each subject had felt the previous day. Those answers allowed researchers to score their "daily experiences"--things like whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged. Subjects that reported high scores were considered "thriving." The percentage of thriving individuals in each country determined our rankings.


Rank
Country
Region

Thriving

Struggling

Suffering
Daily
Experience
1
Denmark
Europe
82
17
1
7.9
2
Finland
Europe
75
23
2
7.8
3
Norway
Europe
69
31
0
7.9
4
Sweden
Europe
68
30
2
7.9
4
Netherlands
Europe
68
32
1
7.7
6
Costa Rica
Americas
63
35
2
8.1
6
New Zealand
Asia
63
35
2
7.6
8
Canada
Americas
62
36
2
7.6
8
Israel
Asia
62
35
3
6.4
8
Australia
Asia
62
35
3
7.5
8
Switzerland
Europe
62
36
2
7.6
12
Panama
Americas
58
39
3
8.4
12
Brazil
Americas
58
40
2
7.5
14
United States
Americas
57
40
3
7.3
14
Austria
Europe
57
40
3
7.7
16
Belgium
Europe
56
41
3
7.3
17
United Kingdom
Europe
54
44
2
7.4
18
Mexico
Americas
52
43
5
7.7
18
Turkmenistan
Asia
52
47
1
7.5
20
United Arab Emirates
Asia
51
48
1
7.7
21
Venezuela
Americas
50
48
2
8.0
22
Ireland
Europe
49
49
2
7.5
23
Puerto Rico
Americas
47
45
8
7.6
23
Kuwait
Asia
47
50
3
7.0
23
Iceland
Europe
47
49
4
8.2
26
Colombia
Americas
46
47
7
7.7
26
Jamaica
Americas
46
49
5
7.7
28
Cyprus
Asia
45
50
5
6.6
28
Luxembourg
Europe
45
54
1
7.3
30
Trinidad and Tobago
Americas
44
51
5
7.9
30
Argentina
Americas
44
50
6
7.8
30
Belize
Americas
44
50
6
6.8
33
Germany
Europe
43
50
7
7.4
34
El Salvador
Americas
42
51
7
7.7
35
Chile
Americas
41
52
7
7.3
35
Uruguay
Americas
41
54
5
7.5
35
Qatar
Asia
41
58
1
6.8
38
Guatemala
Americas
40
50
10
7.7
38
Malta
Europe
40
48
12
6.6
40
Czech Republic
Europe
39
51
9
6.6
40
Italy
Europe
39
54
7
7.1
42
Honduras
Americas
37
49
14
7.5
43
Spain
Europe
36
58
6
7.0
44
Dominican Republic
Americas
35
54
11
7.3
44
France
Europe
35
60
6
7.0
46
Bolivia
Americas
34
59
7
7.0
46
Ecuador
Americas
34
52
15
7.6
48
Paraguay
Americas
32
59
9
8.3
48
Bahrain
Asia
32
45
23
7.0
50
Guyana
Americas
31
64
5
7.0
50
Greece
Europe
31
57
11
7.0
52
Nicaragua
Americas
30
53
17
7.4
52
Jordan
Asia
30
61
8
6.7
54
Belarus
Europe
29
59
12
6.5
54
Kosovo
Europe
29
65
6
6.2
56
South Korea
Asia
28
61
12
6.9
56
Poland
Europe
28
61
10
7.1
58
Saudi Arabia
Asia
27
69
3
6.7
58
Pakistan
Asia
27
50
23
6.2
58
Slovenia
Europe
27
57
16
6.8
61
Croatia
Europe
26
60
14
6.2
61
Montenegro
Europe
26
58
16
6.2
63
Malawi
Africa
25
64
10
8.0
63
Peru
Americas
25
65
11
7.2
63
Moldova
Europe
25
62
13
6.1
63
Lithuania
Europe
25
57
18
6.2
67
Libya*
Africa
24
68
8
6.0
67
Botswana
Africa
24
65
11
7.3
67
Cuba*
Americas
24
66
11
6.7
70
Kazakhstan
Asia
22
72
6
7.2
70
Taiwan
Asia
22
64
14
7.5
70
Portugal
Europe
22
61
17
7.1
73
South Africa
Africa
21
71
8
7.3
73
Lebanon
Asia
21
64
15
6.3
73
Russia
Europe
21
57
22
7.0
73
Ukraine
Europe
21
53
26
6.6
73
Romania
Europe
21
56
23
6.6
73
Slovakia
Europe
21
60
19
6.5
79
Thailand
Asia
20
75
5
8.0
79
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Europe
20
59
20
6.2
81
Iran
Asia
19
66
14
6.3
81
Hong Kong
Asia
19
65
16
7.1
81
Singapore
Asia
19
75
6
6.9
81
Japan
Asia
19
69
12
7.4
85
Somaliland
Africa
18
77
5
7.1
85
Algeria
Africa
18
77
6
6.7
85
Nigeria
Africa
18
78
4
7.3
85
Uzbekistan
Asia
18
75
6
7.8
85
Indonesia
Asia
18
72
10
8.2
90
Estonia
Europe
17
62
21
6.8
91
Myanmar*
Asia
16
82
2
7.1
91
Bangladesh
Asia
16
71
13
6.9
91
Serbia
Europe
16
63
21
6.2
94
Malaysia
Asia
15
80
5
8.1
94
Philippines
Asia
15
68
18
7.2
96
Cameroon
Africa
14
77
9
7.0
96
Tunisia
Africa
14
77
9
6.8
96
Zambia
Africa
14
78
8
7.6
96
Yemen
Asia
14
62
24
6.3
96
Vietnam
Asia
14
76
10
6.9
96
Palestinian Territories
Asia
14
70
15
5.8
96
Macedonia
Europe
14
54
32
6.8
103
Turkey
Asia
13
67
20
6.0
103
Kyrgyzstan
Asia
13
81
7
7.3
103
Azerbaijan
Asia
13
70
17
6.6
103
Hungary
Europe
13
53
34
6.9
103
Albania
Europe
13
67
19
5.6
108
Central African Republic
Africa
12
75
13
6.4
108
Ethiopia
Africa
12
67
21
6.4
110
Namibia
Africa
11
79
10
8.1
110
Angola
Africa
11
81
8
6.8
110
Armenia
Asia
11
55
33
5.9
110
Iraq
Asia
11
71
18
5.2
110
Latvia
Europe
11
64
25
6.5
115
Mozambique
Africa
10
78
11
7.2
115
Egypt
Africa
10
71
19
6.1
115
Mauritania
Africa
10
83
7
7.2
115
Zimbabwe
Africa
10
73
17
7.3
115
Morocco
Africa
10
80
10
7.0
115
Sri Lanka
Asia
10
66
24
6.9
115
India
Asia
10
69
21
6.9
115
Syria
Asia
10
66
24
6.8
115
Georgia
Asia
10
56
35
6.2
115
Afghanistan
Asia
10
69
21
6.2
125
Kenya
Africa
9
78
13
7.5
125
Ghana
Africa
9
83
8
7.5
125
China
Asia
9
77
14
7.6
128
Congo (Brazzaville)
Africa
8
73
20
6.9
128
Guinea
Africa
8
89
3
7.1
130
Sudan
Africa
7
81
12
7.4
130
Djibouti
Africa
7
86
8
7.5
130
Madagascar
Africa
7
84
10
7.0
130
Nepal
Asia
7
82
11
7.4
130
Mongolia
Asia
7
81
12
7.0
130
Laos
Asia
7
89
4
7.1
130
Tajikistan
Asia
7
74
19
6.5
137
Uganda
Africa
6
71
23
6.8
137
Tanzania
Africa
6
70
24
7.5
137
Senegal
Africa
6
88
6
7.3
137
Bulgaria
Europe
6
58
36
6.5
141
Chad
Africa
5
88
7
7.1
141
Liberia
Africa
5
90
5
6.7
141
Mali
Africa
5
77
18
8.0
144
Ivory Coast
Africa
4
84
12
7.2
144
Congo (Kinshasa)
Africa
4
85
11
6.4
144
Benin
Africa
4
80
16
6.7
144
Haiti
Americas
4
60
35
6.2
148
Niger
Africa
3
86
11
7.9
148
Rwanda
Africa
3
75
22
7.8
148
Burkina Faso
Africa
3
71
26
6.5
148
Sierra Leone
Africa
3
74
23
6.3
148
Cambodia
Asia
3
75
22
7.6
153
Comoros
Africa
2
75
23
7.7
153
Burundi
Africa
2
58
40
7.5
155
Togo
Africa
1
67
31
5.0


In the wake of their World Cup loss, residents of the Netherlands may be feeling depressed. But there's reason to believe they won't be done in by the agony of defeat: According to a recent poll, the country is one of the happiest in the world.

Championship-winning Spain, on the other hand, was swept with euphoria and national pride, but that may have been an unfamiliar feeling. The country ranks No. 17 of 21 European countries in terms of happiness.

The fact is good times probably have more to do with the size of your wallet than the size of your trophy shelf. The five happiest countries in the world--Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands--are all clustered in the same region, and all enjoy high levels of prosperity.

"The Scandinavian countries do really well," says Jim Harter, a chief scientist at Gallup, which developed the poll. "One theory why is that they have their basic needs taken care of to a higher degree than other countries. When we look at all the data, those basic needs explain the relationship between income and well-being."

Behind the Numbers
Quantifying happiness isn't an easy task. Researchers at the Gallup World Poll went about it by surveying thousands of respondents in 155 countries, between 2005 and 2009, in order to measure two types of well-being.

First they asked subjects to reflect on their overall satisfaction with their lives, and ranked their answers using a "life evaluation" score between 1 and 10. Then they asked questions about how each subject had felt the previous day. Those answers allowed researchers to score their "daily experiences"--things like whether they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged.

Subjects that reported high scores were considered "thriving." The percentage of thriving individuals in each country determined our rankings. For a complete list of countries surveyed, including the percentages thriving and their daily happiness scores, click here.

Money Matters
The Gallup researchers found evidence of what many have long suspected: money does buy happiness--at least a certain kind of it. In a related report, they studied the reasons why countries with high gross domestic products won out for well-being, and found an association between life satisfaction and income.

Courtesy: Forbes.com

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