According to the first "World map of happiness" created at the University of Leicester, Danes and Swiss are top of the list of 177 countries and Zimbabwe and Burundi in the other extreme.
Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at the University’s School of Psychology, analyzed data published by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR, to create a global projection of the first world map of happiness.
Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analyzed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.
Whilst collecting data on subjective well-being is not an exact science, the measures used are very reliable in predicting health and welfare outcomes. It can be argued that whilst these measures are not perfect they are the best we have so far, and these are the measures that politicians are talking of using to measure the relative performance of each country.
Behind Denmark and Switzerland come Austria, Iceland, Bahamas, Finland, Sweden, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada and Ireland. Costa Rica is the first Latinamerican country to figure, position 13. New Zealand rates 18; United States, 23 and UK, 41.
Other Latinamerican countries include Argentina 56; Bolivia 117; Brazil 81; Chile 71; Colombia 34; Cuba 83; Dominican Republic 42; Ecuador 111; El Salvador 61; Guatemala 43; Honduras 37; Mexico 51; Nicaragua 85; Panama 39; Paraguay 75; Peru 115; Uruguay 87 and Venezuela 25.
"The concept of happiness, or satisfaction with life, is currently a major area of research in economics and psychology, most closely associated with new developments in positive psychology. It has also become a feature in the current political discourse in the UK," said Adrian White.
"There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth. A recent BBC survey in the UK found that 81% of the population thinks the Government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier".
"Further analysis showed that a nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51)".
"The three predictor variables of health, wealth and education were also very closely associated with each other, illustrating the interdependence of these factors.
"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 capita, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy", added White.
"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."
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