Saturday, 21 September 2013

And the happiest people on the planet are…

Happiness in all its forms is a theme that I like. What’s there not to like?

But. It becomes a bit funny when one starts comparing countries and different types of happiness. Being happy and being satisfied seem to be entirely different things, at least according to different indeces.

So what do we have out there?

The World Happiness Report – published by the Columbia University with financial aid from the UN, finds that the Scandinavian and some other North European countries, led by Denmark, are the happiest countries in the world. The report, that looks at various issues, can be found here.

The Happy Planet Index shows results very different from those reported by the World Happiness Report. The Index uses the following formula to measure happiness:


According to this report, the happiest people can be found in Central and South America, as well as in Vietnam. The highest ranking Nordic country is Norway, at place 29. Interestingly, Norwegians live longer and experience higher well-being than the Costa Ricans, but the ecological footprint is much higher. The ecological footprint measures resource consumption.

More about the Happy Planet Index can be found here.

A third Happiness Index is the OECD Better Life Index. This index is not completely comparable to the others, as it only concerns the OECD-countries. Again, variables come from a wide range of topics, from jobs to work-life balance.

The result? The report can be found here. According to this report, Australians, Swedes and Canadians had the best lives.


Happiness is a tricky concept. It’s a subjective feeling that is dependent on various factors. The inclusion and exclusion of factors, and the way these are measured, have a huge impact on the results these reports show.

No comments: