According to a map built at the University of Leicester, UK, you have more chances to be happy if you're rich and in good health. This is also what my grandmother told me, but this map was built by aggregating the results of 100 studies from around the world, involving surveys of 80,000 people in 178 countries. This world map of happiness shows that it's better to live in Northern Europe than in Asia for example. In fact, you have more chances to be happy if you live in Denmark (rated #1) or Switzerland (#2) than in Zimbabwe (#177) or Burundi (#178). Read more...
Here is the introduction of this news release from the University of Leicester.
Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at the University's School of Psychology, analysed data published by UNESCO, the CIA, 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: the first world map of happiness
Below is a small version of this map (Credit: Adrian White, University of Leicester). On this map, red indicates a high level of happiness.
An interactive -- read Flash -- version of this map is available here. And you'll be able to check your country's level of happiness -- if it appears in the list of the 178 countries included.
Here are some comments about the relative scores of some countries provided by White.
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.
France, where I lived, is ranked at #62, while the U.S. are at #23.
Sources: University of Leicester, via EurekAlert!, July 27, 2006; and various web sites
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