World happiness: rankings by country (US #23)
Via MetaFilter, this ranking of countries by happiness, “based on an analysis of the results from over 100 studies. It uses data published by by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR.” HealthDay reports:
Piecing together information from more than 100 studies in the growing field of happiness research, a British psychologist has produced what he says is the first world map of happiness.
It ranks 178 countries, with Denmark at the top and the African nation of Burundi at the bottom. The United States comes in 23rd.
“While happiness is intangible, the scales used in these studies are very accurate,” said Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist who is working toward a doctorate at the University of Leicester. “Happiness research is far from an exact science, but it is the best way we have of looking at it.”
White analyzed the data in relation to a nation’s health, wealth and access to education. The United States came in relatively low — beneath Bhutan, Brunei and Canada, among other countries — in large part because of health factors. “You don’t have the highest life expectancy,” he noted.
The biggest mystery is why Japan scored so poorly, 90th on the list, he said. “Japan scores highly on all of the factors,” White said. “Its listing is one of the anomalies of the study.”
Smaller nations such as Ireland (11th place), Costa Rica (13) and the Seychelles (20) tended to score higher because their citizens “have a greater sense of identity,” White said.
The low scores of so many African countries and Russia (167) can be explained by “major gaps in both health and education,” he said. The three bottom countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Burundi.
This is not the most formal of studies, White acknowledged. It is expected to be published in a University of Leicester student journal and presented at “our own festival of postgraduate research,” he said.
The Pew Research Center has published a report specifically on happiness in the US.