The visible hand in economics

Happy, happy people!

Posted on: November 20, 2008

Yay, we’re the 15th happiest country in the world! Unsurprisingly, while money makes us happy, it doesn’t really matter once you earn over 15,000 USD/capita. What really matters is trust, tolerance and religion, apparently. Being religious makes you seven percentage points happier on average, which probably explains Saudi Arabia’s unusual happiness in the face of such intolerance.

And now for the big picture(s)! The first picture shows happinesss around the world where the scale runs from green being most happy, through blue, purple, orange and lastly red being least happy. Which makes us here in NZ look like pretty happy people.

World happiness

Now let’s look at the Happy Planet Index, which tries to take happiness and include a measure of each country’s ecological footprint. It rates countries from the good greenies to the bad brownies.

Happy Planet Index

As can be seen, Africa and Russia are pretty unhappy places and the US kills the globe on an unmatched scale. NZ isn’t the most eco-friendly, given our high happiness rating, but China is a pretty impressive place: it has a high happiness AND high HPI rating. Of course that’s likely to be because it’s underdeveloped and the HPI doesn’t take into account human rights abuses. Which is probably indicative of how much you should rely on these numbers as measures of ‘goodness’.

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1 Response to "Happy, happy people!"

That point about religion – very secular peoples like the Danes and Swedes (maybe all of Scandanavia for all I know, they seem to be the same at everything!) are very happy countries. Perhaps they’re outliers in some way…

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