The Human Truth Foundation

International Happiness
Which Countries and Regions are Most Happy?

By Vexen Crabtree 2018

#denmark #finland #happiness #human_development #netherlands #norway

Studying happiness is difficult and people tend to overstate their own happiness - in particular those who are aware of international studies of happiness and want to portray their country in a good light. It is also especially overstated by religious folk who are institutionalized into repeating the story of 'how happy my religion makes me'1.

Over many years, the happiest countries have been those of northern Europe - Finland, Norway, Denmark, plus the Netherlands. The unhappiest continent is Africa (by a wide margin).

It is of course true that the happiest people are not those who are necessarily leading the best lives. Excess, indulgence and short-term policy can all lead to a high rating on this chart; things like living morally and frugally, for example, do not automatically go hand in hand with happiness even though they are virtues. But by comparing national happiness to overall development via the Social And Moral index score; we see that overall national development is strongly correlated to average happiness. In other words, the key to making a population happy in the long term is the embracing of liberal democratic values, human rights, tolerance, good education, and a strong social net (which are the factors which cause high rankings on the Social & Moral index).


1. Country Rankings

#finland #happiness #human_development

The 2011 and 2018 comes from similar sources; both based on self-declaration during questioning, with answers on a scale of 1 to 10. Analysis and reports are published by the United Nations in both cases. These statistics are widely reported on by the press using simplistic phrases like "Finland is now the best place to live...", but it is more complicated than that: In most regions, education and social mobility determine happiness, rather than the country's placement on the happiness index. Those who are seeking happiness are, most of the time, better off staying where they are, but investing in wiser lifestyle choices. The exception is countries that are very poor or dangerous.

Pos.Happiness (2018)
Higher is better
2
Life Satisfaction (2011)
Higher is better
3
Social & Moral
Lower is better

Avg Rank4,5
1Finland7.67.432.0
2Norway7.67.630.9
3Denmark7.67.830.5
4Iceland7.56.939.6
5Switzerland7.57.537.2
6Netherlands7.47.635.5
7Canada7.37.436.8
8New Zealand7.37.237.6
9Sweden7.37.533.3
10Australia7.37.441.1
11Israel7.27.467.5
12Austria7.17.535.6
13Costa Rica7.17.356.0
14Ireland7.07.042.9
15Germany7.06.734.3
16Belgium6.96.943.5
17Luxembourg6.97.139.5
18USA6.97.156.2
19UK6.86.939.8
20UAE6.87.277.9
21Czechia6.76.349.0
22Malta6.66.256.6
23France6.57.044.0
24Mexico6.56.872.3
25Chile6.56.658.6
26Taiwan6.430.2
27Panama6.47.376.9
28Brazil6.46.866.9
29Argentina6.46.468.1
30Guatemala6.46.385.2
31Uruguay6.46.156.8
32Qatar6.46.680.4
33Saudi Arabia6.46.788.6
34Singapore6.36.554.2
35Malaysia6.35.873.2
36Spain6.36.542.2
37Colombia6.36.482.8
38Trinidad & Tobago6.26.776.4
39Slovakia6.25.957.0
40El Salvador6.26.786.3
41Nicaragua6.15.787.9
42Poland6.15.652.8
43Bahrain6.14.590.2
44Uzbekistan6.15.185.6
45Kuwait6.16.685.2
46Thailand6.16.778.5
47Italy6.06.145.1
48Ecuador6.05.877.4
49Belize6.06.591.7
50Lithuania6.05.464.4
51Slovenia5.96.047.2
52Romania5.95.061.6
53Latvia5.95.061.1
54Japan5.96.139.8
55Mauritius5.95.566.5
56Jamaica5.983.1
57S. Korea5.96.945.0
58Northern Cyprus5.8
59Russia5.85.481.1
60Kazakhstan5.85.586.2
61Cyprus5.86.755.6
62Bolivia5.85.882.1
63Estonia5.75.551.1
64Paraguay5.75.889.4
65Peru5.75.674.4
66Kosovo5.773.2
67Moldova5.65.873.2
68Turkmenistan5.65.899.5
69Hungary5.64.948.0
70Libya5.64.9106.5
71Philippines5.55.079.5
72Honduras5.55.997.9
73Turkey5.55.377.4
74Belarus5.55.277.4
75Pakistan5.55.3111.4
76Hong Kong5.45.5
77Portugal5.45.250.7
78Serbia5.44.568.5
79Greece5.45.462.6
80Tajikistan5.44.391.9
81Montenegro5.35.577.4
82Croatia5.35.661.7
83Dominican Rep.5.34.785.5
84Algeria5.35.297.2
85Morocco5.35.182.9
86China5.25.078.3
87Azerbaijan5.24.787.6
88Lebanon5.25.289.6
89Macedonia5.24.276.4
90Jordan5.25.780.6
91Nigeria5.24.8111.6
92Kyrgyzstan5.14.984.2
93Bosnia & Herzegovina5.14.773.5
94Mongolia5.15.073.5
95Vietnam5.15.879.0
96Indonesia5.15.292.4
97Bhutan5.183.7
98Somalia5.0143.7
99Cameroon5.04.4111.3
100Bulgaria4.93.966.7
101Nepal4.93.891.9
102Venezuela4.87.599.4
103Gabon4.8110.9
104Palestine4.74.8
105S. Africa4.74.779.0
106Iran4.74.897.8
107Ivory Coast4.74.2110.8
108Ghana4.75.690.1
109Senegal4.63.894.7
110Laos4.65.0107.0
111Tunisia4.64.776.9
112Albania4.65.371.4
113Sierra Leone4.64.1111.6
114Congo, (Brazzaville)4.64.5122.2
115Bangladesh4.55.099.3
116Sri Lanka4.54.277.7
117Iraq4.55.0124.2
118Mali4.43.8110.1
119Namibia4.44.9100.8
120Cambodia4.44.2108.6
121Burkina Faso4.44.097.9
122Egypt4.44.192.6
123Mozambique4.45.0113.4
124Kenya4.44.494.5
125Zambia4.45.0100.3
126Mauritania4.45.0119.3
127Ethiopia4.44.4111.2
128Georgia4.34.277.7
129Armenia4.34.476.1
130Myanmar (Burma)4.3113.2
131Chad4.33.7127.0
132Congo, DR4.24.0124.8
133India4.24.687.2
134Niger4.24.1117.1
135Uganda4.24.299.3
136Benin4.13.7110.9
137Sudan4.14.4118.2
138Ukraine4.15.175.2
139Togo4.02.8108.1
140Guinea4.04.0110.2
141Lesotho3.8104.3
142Angola3.84.2128.9
143Madagascar3.84.4110.5
144Zimbabwe3.74.8117.1
145Afghanistan3.63.8128.1
146Botswana3.63.6101.4
147Malawi3.65.1109.0
148Haiti3.63.8112.9
149Liberia3.54.2115.9
150Syria3.54.1117.2
151Rwanda3.44.0101.5
152Yemen3.43.7122.6
153Tanzania3.34.1104.4
154S. Sudan3.3133.4
155Central African Rep.3.13.6128.3
156Burundi2.93.8120.9
q=156.

There are large gaps in happiness between countries, and these will continue to create major pressures to migrate. Some of those who migrate between countries will benefit and others will lose. In general, those who move to happier countries than their own will gain in happiness, while those who move to unhappier countries will tend to lose.

Helliwell, Layard & Sachs (2018 Mar 14)6

Statistical analysis can reveal which factors are associated with national happiness levels. United Nations analysis say for the period 2005-2017, six factors in particular explained the data7. These are:

  1. GDP per capita,
  2. social support,
  3. healthy life expectancy,
  4. social freedom,
  5. generosity, and
  6. absence of corruption.

Also on the chart is each country's Social And Moral index score; showing that overall national development is strongly correlated to average happiness. In other words, the key to making a population happy in the long term is the embracing of liberal democratic values, human rights, tolerance, good education, and a strong social net (which are the factors which cause high rankings on the Social & Moral index).

See:

2. Regional Comparisons

#australia #happiness #human_development #new_zealand

This data is skewed by the fact that there is only data for two countries in Australasia - New Zealand and Australia, who both score highly.

AreaSocial & Moral
Lower is better

Avg Rank4,5
Life Satisfaction (2011)
Higher is better
3
Happiness (2018)
Higher is better
2
Africa...108.74.44.29
Asia...86.55.35.29
Australasia104.97.37.30
Europe...58.05.96.06
North America83.16.36.09
South America79.16.35.98
The Middle East89.85.65.35
World86.45.45.38

3. Happiness and Religion: Does Belief Make You Happy Or Does Unhappiness Make You Believe?

#happiness #human_development #religion #religions #secularisation

Scattergraph of god-belief (theism), religiosity and happiness, by country

Source:8,9

Religious believers often say that their religion makes them happy and that this is one of the reasons for them remaining loyal to their religion10,11. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was distraught by this, blurting out that no-one should "regard a doctrine as true merely because it makes people happy... happiness and virtue are no arguments"12. But even more unfortunately, it happens that across the world, religious countries are unhappier than non-religious ones13.

Adrian White, a University of Leicester psychologist [analyzed] more than a hundred studies that questioned eighty thousand people worldwide. [...] White's work clearly shows that high levels of belief do not guarantee high levels of happiness for societies. Based on the data, high levels of nonbelief seem more conducive to a society's overall happiness than belief.

Adrian White
Science Daily (2006)14

For the full text on this, see: Happiness and Religion: Does Belief Make You Happy Or Does Unhappiness Make You Believe?.