Thursday, October 13, 2011

The most happy countries

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has released its report that measures the happiness of its member countries.  The report is titled "How's Life?" and it used surveys to measure eleven specific aspects of life that are believed to contribute to individuals' feelings of overall well-being.

Among the factors measured in the surveys were such things as income, jobs, housing, health, clean environment, safe neighborhoods, and work-life balance.  While income proved to be an important factor, less obvious aspects of life, including health, safe neighborhoods, and clean environments proved extremely important, also.

Here, then, is a countdown of what the OECD found to be the ten happiest countries in the world.
10. Austria
9.   United Kingdom
8.   China
7.   Sweden
6.   Norway
5.   Netherlands
4.   Indonesia
3.   Japan
2.   Iceland
1.   Denmark
Interestingly, seven of the ten are European countries and four of those seven are Nordic countries with strong social safety nets intact.  In fact, all of the countries on this list, with the possible exception of Indonesia, are marked by government services which provide a back-up for their citizens who need help.  Most all of these countries, for example, have universal health care through a state-run system.  Additionally, all of the countries, except China, have democratic traditions.

The report concluded that global well-being is increasing, that people are richer, more likely to be employed, enjoy better housing conditions, are exposed to less air pollution and less crime, and are more educated and live longer.  And yet, income inequality between groups within countries is on the rise, which brings the "happiness quotient" of countries like the United States down, resulting in people feeling less secure.

And where did the United States place in this report?  Nineteenth.

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