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The First-ever ‘World Map Of Happiness’

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A University of Leicester psychologist has produced the first ever ‘world map of happiness.’

And here they are: the 20 happiest nations in the World:

1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada
11. Ireland
12. Luxembourg
13. Costa Rica
14. Malta
15. The Netherlands
16. Antigua and Barbuda
17. Malaysia
18. New Zealand
19. Norway
20. The Seychelles

Other notable results include:

23. USA
35. Germany
41. UK
62. France
82. China
90. Japan
125. India
167. Russia

The three least happy countries were:

176. Democratic Republic of the Congo
177. Zimbabwe
178. Burundi


“In the map shown here international levels of subjective well-being (SWB) are presented in a global projection. The data on SWB was extracted from a meta-analysis by Marks, Abdallah, Simms & Thompson (2006). This is the first time a map of global happiness has been published. It is immediately evident that there is an effect of poverty on levels of SWB. The map itself mirrors other projection of poverty and GDP. This data on SWB was compared with data on access to education (UNESCO, 2005), health (United Nations, 2005), and poverty (CIA, 2006). It was found that SWB correlated most strongly with health (.7) closely followed by wealth (.6) and access to basic education (.6). This adds to the evidence that from a global perspective the biggest causes of SWB are poverty and associated variables”, says Adrian G. White, University of Leicester.

Other sources of information were the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR, to create a global projection of subjective well-being.

Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide.

Collecting data on subjective well-being is not an exact science. Still, the measures used are very reliable in predicting health and welfare outcomes. It can be argued that whilst these measures are not perfect they are the best we have so far, and these are the measures that politicians are talking of using to measure the relative performance of each country.

Adrian White said: “There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth. A recent BBC survey found that 81% of the population think the Government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier.

“There is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people. However, when people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher GDP per captia, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.

“We were surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th. These are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity which other researchers have associated with well-being.

“It is also notable that many of the largest countries in terms of population do quite badly. With China 82nd, India 125th and Russia 167th it is interesting to note that larger populations are not associated with happy countries.”

“The frustrations of modern life, and the anxieties of the age, seem to be much less significant compared to the health, financial and educational needs in other parts of the World. The current concern with happiness levels in the UK may well be a case of the ‘worried well’.”

Written by huehueteotl

March 19, 2007 at 2:33 pm

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