First Ever Produced World Map of Happiness

By Thomas Herold in Research on November 16th, 2006 / No Comments

happiness.jpgWhilst collecting data on subjective well-being is not an exact science, 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.

The researchers have argued that regular testing as a collaboration between academics in different countries would enable us to track changes in happiness, and what events may cause that. For example what effect would a war, or famine, or national success have on a country’s members’ happiness. .

Adrian White said:
“The concept of happiness, or satisfaction with life, is currently a major area of research in economics and psychology, most closely associated with new developments in positive psychology. It has also become a feature in the current political discourse in the UK.

“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.

“Further analysis showed that a nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels, followed by wealth, and then provision of education.

“The three predictor variables of health, wealth and education were also very closely associated with each other, illustrating the interdependence of these factors.

“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’.”

“I have used data on happiness published by the New Economics Foundation (Marks, N., Abdallah, S., Simms, A, Thompson, S.(2006). The Happy Planet Index. London: New Economics Foundation). I have also sourced data from UNESCO on access to schooling, from the WHO on life expectancy, and from the CIA on GDP per capita. I have then performed new analysis with this data to come to a unique and novel set of results; specifically the extent of correlation between measures of poverty, health and education, and the variable of happiness. I have also presented the data on happiness in the form of a global projection, the ‘World Map of Happiness’.”

The 20 Happiest Nations in the World are:

  • 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

About Adrian White:
Adrian White, Analytic Social Psychologist at the University of Leicester produces first ever global projection of international differences in subjective well-being; the first ever World Map of Happiness.

Source: University of Leicester

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