PDA

View Full Version : World Happiness Report 2018



Maciamo
22-03-18, 10:45
The new World Happiness Report 2018 (https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2018/WHR_web.pdf) was published last week. 156 countries were surveyed. The ranking includes a number of factors such as y: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.

Generosity is based on the question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?”. However I fail to see how this impact local happiness, as charities are often international (e.g. scientific research) or geared toward poorer countries.

The survey also includes what they call "Positive affect" (defined as the average of previous-day affect measures for
happiness, laughter, and enjoyment) and "Negative affect" (defined as the average of previous-day affect measures for worry, sadness, and anger). These two are averaged in the Dystopia category, which is the biggest component of the Happiness Index.

Here is the top 25.

1. Finland (7.632)
2. Norway (7.594)
3. Denmark (7.555)
4. Iceland (7.495)
5. Switzerland (7.487)
6. Netherlands (7.441)
7. Canada (7.328)
8. New Zealand (7.324)
9. Sweden (7.314)
10. Australia (7.272)
11. Israel (7.190)
12. Austria (7.139)
13. Costa Rica (7.072)
14. Ireland (6.977)
15. Germany (6.965)
16. Belgium (6.927)
17. Luxembourg (6.910)
18. United States (6.886)
19. United Kingdom (6.814)
20. United Arab Emirates (6.774)
21. Czech Republic (6.711)
22. Malta (6.627)
23. France (6.489)
24. Mexico (6.488)
25. Chile (6.476)

Not too many surprises here, except maybe the good scores of Costa Rica (but it has been ranking well for years), Mexico and Chile compared to their GDP and life expectancy. Costa Rica, Mexico and other Central American nations (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua) perform exceptionally well (better than most Western countries) for the Dystopia score, meaning that their subjective happiness can be high despite corruption, lower life expectancy and lower material wealth than rich countries.

The Czechs rank much higher than the Spaniards, Italians or any other Slavic or Baltic country. Once again, it is because of their positive attitude to life (Dystopia score).

Some developed countries perform surprisingly poorly for their level of development.

34. Singapore (6.343)
36. Spain (6.310)
47. Italy (6.000)
51. Slovenia (5.948)
54. Japan (5.915)
57. South Korea (5.875)
61. Cyprus (5.762)
63. Estonia (5.739)
69. Hungary (5.620)
76. Hong Kong SAR, China (5.430)
77. Portugal (5.410)
79. Greece (5.358)

Singapore has the highest score of any country for all factors combined except Dystopia. This is a good example of how material wealth does not bring happiness. Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are in the same situation. Japan would have the same overall score as the USA, Germany or Belgium were it not for the Dystopia factor. Hong Kong ranks even higher in statistics, closer to Scandinavian countries, but is even less happy.

In fact, many of the countries that are unhappier than one would expect from statistics have high suicide rates. This is the case of Japan and South Korea, and of Poland, Estonia and Hungary in Europe. South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world after Lithuania. All Northeast European countries have high suicide rates, and that can be partly explained by the climate (and post-communist gloom).

However that is not the case of Southern European countries. Portugal Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Greece have some of the lowest suicide rates in the developed world. So why is it that the Maltese are so much happier than their Mediterranean neighbours? Except for Spain, all these countries are less happy than most Latin American nations, Poland, Slovakia or Uzbekistan, despite higher levels of development.

What makes it all the more astonishing is that Mediterranean countries enjoy great climates, excellent food and are generally more relaxed cultures taking time to enjoy life (long lunches, siestas, rich sex life, lots of friends, dolce vita). That may be a bit stereotypical, but that is certainly more true than in many other parts of the world. France actually fits in that cultural scene too, and it too performs less well than countries with equivalent levels of development (UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany). So what causes speakers of Greek and Romance languages in Europe to be so negative? Is it down to genetics? Is it because of the economic malaise since the 2008 crisis? (most countries have recovered by now, so it's doubtful). I am at a loss.

IronSide
22-03-18, 11:23
The highest in the Middle East are :

11. Israel (7.190)
20. United Arab Emirates (6.774)
32. Qatar (6.374)
33. Saudi Arabia (6.371)
43. Bahrain (6.105)
45. Kuwait (6.083)
70. Libya (5.566)
74. Turkey (5.483)
84. Algeria (5.295)
85. Morocco (5.254)
87. Azerbaijan (5.201)
88. Lebanon (5.199)
90. Jordan (5.161)
104. Palestinian Territories (4.743)
106. Iran (4.707)
111. Tunisia (4.592)
117. Iraq (4.456)
122. Egypt (4.419)
128. Georgia (4.340)
129. Armenia (4.321)
137. Sudan (4.139)
150. Syria (3.462)
152. Yemen (3.355)


We could learn a thing or two from Israel, it doesn't seem to correlate with democracy, otherwise, Tunisia (the only democratic Arab country) should top the list with Israel.

Maciamo
22-03-18, 12:37
The highest in the Middle East are :

11. Israel (7.190)
20. United Arab Emirates (6.774)
32. Qatar (6.374)
33. Saudi Arabia (6.371)
43. Bahrain (6.105)
45. Kuwait (6.083)
70. Libya (5.566)
74. Turkey (5.483)
84. Algeria (5.295)
85. Morocco (5.254)
87. Azerbaijan (5.201)
88. Lebanon (5.199)
90. Jordan (5.161)
104. Palestinian Territories (4.743)
106. Iran (4.707)
111. Tunisia (4.592)
117. Iraq (4.456)
122. Egypt (4.419)
128. Georgia (4.340)
129. Armenia (4.321)
137. Sudan (4.139)
150. Syria (3.462)
152. Yemen (3.355)


We could learn a thing or two from Israel, it doesn't seem to correlate with democracy, otherwise, Tunisia (the only democratic Arab country) should top the list with Israel.

Once again, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt are at the same level for all factors combined except Dystopia. So the reason why Tunisians and Egyptians aren't as happy as Moroccans and Algerians seems to be down to subjective well-being and feelings. They suffer from the same inexplicable gloom as European Mediterraneans. Libyans do quite well despite the recent turmoils of the Arab Spring. They are even happier than the Greeks, the Portuguese or the vastly wealthier, healthier and freer Hong Kong citizens.

Maciamo
22-03-18, 12:56
East Asian countries generally have very good statistics, notably for GDP per capita and health, yet rank low for happiness. Having lived in Japan, my impression is that this has to do with the very strict work culture and people living to work (instead of working to live), with very little hobbies on the side besides eating out. This is especially true for men, for whom work dedication is much more important than for most women, due to the still prevailing division of tasks between genders.

East Asians are also very anxious by nature, which prevents them from enjoying some things in life as well as more laid back people.

In Japan, the happiest individuals might be the housewives who can meet their friends for lunch several time a week in good restaurants and enjoy relatively low stress levels.

In this study, the Taiwanese appear to be considerably happier than their Japanese, Korean, HK or Singaporian neighbours. Taiwan ranks in between Japan and South Korea for the overall score if we exclude Dyspotia. So it is their subjective feelings that makes them happier. I wonder why that is.

Maciamo
22-03-18, 13:45
I gave some thought to the situation in southern Europe, and I think that the reason for the general unhappiness are that the economy has been going down steadily in each country (except Malta) for at least a decade, and people feel that the situation isn't going to improve any time soon. As discussed in that Pew Research survey (https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/35016-Life-has-got-better-over-the-last-50-years-in-many-countries-but-not-in-the-Americas) 3 months ago, people in France, Italy and Greece notably feel that their quality of life is lower than it was a generation ago.

I thought that immigration from Africa and the Middle East would be another factor. But the statistics show that Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece each have 9 to 10% of immigrants, which is less than France or Germanic countries. The same is true for asylum seekers.

LeBrok
22-03-18, 23:18
I gave some thought to the situation in southern Europe, and I think that the reason for the general unhappiness are that the economy has been going down steadily in each country (except Malta) for at least a decade, and people feel that the situation isn't going to improve any time soon. As discussed in that Pew Research survey (https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/35016-Life-has-got-better-over-the-last-50-years-in-many-countries-but-not-in-the-Americas) 3 months ago, people in France, Italy and Greece notably feel that their quality of life is lower than it was a generation ago.

I thought that immigration from Africa and the Middle East would be another factor. But the statistics show that Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece each have 9 to 10% of immigrants, which is less than France or Germanic countries. The same is true for asylum seekers.
South European unhappiness surprised me too. Is this statistic going back a generation or longer to compare if this unhappiness is a recent evenement?

Maciamo
23-03-18, 09:03
South European unhappiness surprised me too. Is this statistic going back a generation or longer to compare if this unhappiness is a recent evenement?

I don't think there were already international happiness reports a generation ago. The oldest report I found was from 2012 (https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2012/World_Happiness_Report_2012.pdf) and the ranking was similar, except that several southern European countries ranked higher than this year:

22. Spain (36th in 2018, -14 positions)
28. Italy (-19)
33. Singapore (-1)
35. Cyprus (-26)
42. Greece (-37)
44. Japan (-10)
46. Taiwan (+20)
47. Malta (+25)
49. Slovenia (-2)
56. South Korea (-1)
67. Hong Kong (-9)
72. Estonia (-9)
73. Portugal (-4)
96. Hungary (+27)

So the situation considerably deteriorated in Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, deteriorated slightly in Japan, Hong Kong and Estonia, but very much improved in Hungary, Malta and Taiwan.

Among other countries where people became considerably happier are Latvia (+53), Bulgaria (+48), Serbia (+40), Macedonia (+38), Romania (+28), Hungary (+27), Russia (+17), Slovakia (+16), the Czech Republic (+15), Germany (+15), Poland (+11), Lithuania (+10), Moldova (+8), and to a lesser extend Montenegro (+5). Oddly Croatia (-24) and Albania (-24) don't follow the trend of central and eastern Europe, but that of southern Europe. Ukrainians (-47) are much unhappier but that is because of the war and ensuing tensions with Russia.

The trend I see is that in countries where the economy is getting better and quality of life improves people are getting happier, while in places where the economy and quality of life is stagnant or decreases (even slightly), people are becoming (sometimes considerably) unhappier. Happiness is therefore relative. It doesn't depend on what people have, but how they perceive themselves compared to their neighbours and how their standing in the world economy is progressing.

It doesn't seem to matter much to Italian people that they live in what is possibly the most beautiful country in the world, have an ideal climate, great food, plenty of culture and history, and so on. If they think that the prospects for the future are bad, that will make them unhappy, whether their impression is justified or not, and regardless of their actual quality of life by international standards. I say Italy, but that applies for most countries. The Japanese are also negative because their economy hasn't grown much since the 1990 bubble burst. What both Italians and Japanese fail to recognise is that their populations are shrinking (too low birth rates) and this is the main reason why their economy is relatively stagnant - not because of an inherent problem with how people work.

Maciamo
23-03-18, 09:35
The sharpest drop worldwide in the last 5 years was in Venezuela, which passed from 19th happiest to 102th!

DuPidh
23-03-18, 10:59
South European unhappiness surprised me too. Is this statistic going back a generation or longer to compare if this unhappiness is a recent evenement?

Southern Europeans never tell the truth in polls. The general attitude is to tease the interviewer. So the whole poll is bolloni. How can one live in Island and be happy, or Canada or Finland, with that terrible weather? Only for being born in Mediterranean is a 50% bonus to be happy, with magic taste of food, magic nature, terrific people.

DuPidh
23-03-18, 11:21
By the way I can't resist telling a story about happiness. Be patient and read it. I read this story when I was at my first steps of learning English, designed for English students. I stuck my mind. I want to share it badly!

The story goes: " The king of England was sick to death. The doctor said to him he could survive if put on the shirt of a happy man. So they figured out the king of Germany had a lot of money, big army beautiful women so he fit the bill of a happy man. They send people and asked him for his shirt. The German King said let alone he was not happy, but scared to death because many wanted to kill him to take his throne.
Same story with the king of France, Poland and so on. Finally the English King's people looking for a happy man's shirt, gave up and headed home concluding that does not exist such a thing as happy man in this world. On the way home they met a Gypsy congregation playing music, dancing and doing stuff. They were asked if they were happy. The gypsies answered that they were immensely happy. Immediately they were asked for their shirts. The irony was they were dirty poor, wearing no shirts. By this time King of England was dead
The lesson learned: GDP per capita is not a reliable source to measure happiness. The whole story of measuring happiness of worlds peoples is a bad joke. Don't believe everything you read !

LABERIA
23-03-18, 11:47
Southern Europeans never tell the truth in polls. The general attitude is to tease the interviewer. So the whole poll is bolloni. How can one live in Island and be happy, or Canada or Finland, with that terrible weather? Only for being born in Mediterranean is a 50% bonus to be happy, with magic taste of food, magic nature, terrific people.
No, the report tells the truth. It's true what you say about the bonus of 50%,but the problem is with the other 50%, the economic situation. There is a general discontent. The unhappiness in South Europe is true.

DuPidh
23-03-18, 11:56
No, the report tells the truth. It's true what you say about the bonus of 50%,but the problem is with the other 50%, the economic situation. There is a general discontent. The unhappiness in South Europe is true.
Read my fairy tale I wrote! Gypsies had no money and clothes but were the only happy people in North Europe. GDP does not tell the whole story. One can make a lot of money in Canada but spends it for heating bill!

hrvclv
23-03-18, 13:13
I agree with Maciamo that what matters, at bottom, is not so much the level of economic performance or comfort as the overall trend towards better or worse. People who are convinced their children will live better than themselves feel happy. Those who worry for the future don't.

In southern Europe (France included), most social security accounts (which finance unemployment compensations, retirement pensions, medical coverage) are in the red. Plus, those countries are deep in debt. The governments are belatedly trying to address those problems, which basically means increasing yet again an already considerable tax burden. People have seen their purchasing power decline. They are aware their children will have to work longer, contribute more even as salaries stagnate. Jobs are replaced by robots, or relocated elsewhere. It's a downward spiral : high taxes incite companies to leave ; people lose their jobs ; fewer people contribute ; more people need assistance ; contribution rates rise ; so more companies leave. And round and round it goes.

Even though GDP and current standards of living are still comparatively higher than in many other countries , what the future holds in store is the source of concern.

Angela
23-03-18, 14:13
I agree with Maciamo that what matters, at bottom, is not so much the level of economic performance or comfort as the overall trend towards better or worse. People who are convinced their children will live better than themselves feel happy. Those who worry for the future don't.
In southern Europe (France included), most social security accounts (which finance unemployment compensations, retirement pensions, medical coverage) are in the red. Plus, those countries are deep in debt. The governments are belatedly trying to address those problems, which basically means increasing yet again an already considerable tax burden. People have seen their purchasing power decline. They are aware their children will have to work longer, contribute more even as salaries stagnate. Jobs are replaced by robots, or relocated elsewhere. It's a downward spiral : high taxes incite companies to leave ; people lose their jobs ; fewer people contribute ; more people need assistance ; contribution rates rise ; so more companies leave. And round and round it goes.
Even though GDP and current standards of living are still comparatively higher than in many other countries , what the future holds in store is the source of concern.

That's exactly how I see it as well.

Maciamo
23-03-18, 16:21
By the way I can't resist telling a story about happiness. Be patient and read it. I read this story when I was at my first steps of learning English, designed for English students. I stuck my mind. I want to share it badly!

The story goes: " The king of England was sick to death. The doctor said to him he could survive if put on the shirt of a happy man. So they figured out the king of Germany had a lot of money, big army beautiful women so he fit the bill of a happy man. They send people and asked him for his shirt. The German King said let alone he was not happy, but scared to death because many wanted to kill him to take his throne.
Same story with the king of France, Poland and so on. Finally the English King's people looking for a happy man's shirt, gave up and headed home concluding that does not exist such a thing as happy man in this world. On the way home they met a Gypsy congregation playing music, dancing and doing stuff. They were asked if they were happy. The gypsies answered that they were immensely happy. Immediately they were asked for their shirts. The irony was they were dirty poor, wearing no shirts. By this time King of England was dead
The lesson learned: GDP per capita is not a reliable source to measure happiness. The whole story of measuring happiness of worlds peoples is a bad joke. Don't believe everything you read !

But GDP per capita is only one of numerous factors taken into account here, and doesn't account for more than 20%. Anyway it has been proven that money is necessary for most people to be happy up to a certain point. It's easier to be happy when all your basic needs (food, shelter, education, healthcare) are met. After you have all the basics, having vastly more money doesn't change much and may make you less happy as people who have a lot of money tend to worry more about that money.



Read my fairy tale I wrote! Gypsies had no money and clothes but were the only happy people in North Europe. GDP does not tell the whole story. One can make a lot of money in Canada but spends it for heating bill!

By the way, I have seen my fair share of Gypsies begging (or pick-pocketing) in the streets of big European cities (it's particularly bad in Italy) and I can tell you that those people did not look happy (at all).

Maciamo
23-03-18, 16:34
I agree with Maciamo that what matters, at bottom, is not so much the level of economic performance or comfort as the overall trend towards better or worse. People who are convinced their children will live better than themselves feel happy. Those who worry for the future don't.

In southern Europe (France included), most social security accounts (which finance unemployment compensations, retirement pensions, medical coverage) are in the red. Plus, those countries are deep in debt. The governments are belatedly trying to address those problems, which basically means increasing yet again an already considerable tax burden. People have seen their purchasing power decline. They are aware their children will have to work longer, contribute more even as salaries stagnate. Jobs are replaced by robots, or relocated elsewhere. It's a downward spiral : high taxes incite companies to leave ; people lose their jobs ; fewer people contribute ; more people need assistance ; contribution rates rise ; so more companies leave. And round and round it goes.

Even though GDP and current standards of living are still comparatively higher than in many other countries , what the future holds in store is the source of concern.

If people aren't happy because they worry about the future and jobs being outsourced to developing countries, then a lot of people should read about how technology (AI and robots) will take away most jobs in just a decade or two. Forget about globalisation and outsourcing. There is no rational reason to believe that big companies will want to pay humans to do jobs that can be done better and for a fraction of the cost by machines, and without risking strikes. The media tend to seriously underplay how fast everything is going to change (https://www.vitamodularis.org/articles/your_life_is_going_to_change_faster_than_ever_befo re.shtml). Just take a look at the thread about new robots (https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/27140-Robot-anyone-!-New-technological-revolution-is-near) which LeBrok started 6 years ago and see how progress is speeding up. In just a few years we will reach the point when humanoid robots will have the intelligence, skills and dexterity to do practically any job a person can do. As prices will keep falling year after year, soon enough robots will cost very little and replace all jobs. That is the reality. There is no reason to worry about it because it is inevitable. We should learn to live with it and make the most of it (use robots to work for us and be happy). So the bottom line is that worrying about the future of employment is useless and narrow minded. People can't let that make them unhappy.

hrvclv
23-03-18, 17:44
As prices will keep falling year after year, soon enough robots will cost very little and replace all jobs. That is the reality. There is no reason to worry about it because it is inevitable. We should learn to live with it and make the most of it (use robots to work for us and be happy). So the bottom line is that worrying about the future of employment is useless and narrow minded. People can't let that make them unhappy.

If robots take over, and produce in our place, how do we get the money to buy what the robots produce ? How can we disconnect production (+ salary) from consumption (= expense)? Learn to live with it all right, but then it is an entirely new socio-economic model that remains to be invented. It takes a degree of optimism to imagine we'll go unhurt through such unprecedented changes.

LeBrok
23-03-18, 18:41
If robots take over, and produce in our place, how do we get the money to buy what the robots produce ? How can we disconnect production (+ salary) from consumption (= expense)? Learn to live with it all right, but then it is an entirely new socio-economic model that remains to be invented. It takes a degree of optimism to imagine we'll go unhurt through such unprecedented changes.
We mused about this already:
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/34400-Robots-are-destroying-cashflow-in-economy

https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/32304-What-would-people-do-when-robots-produce-everything

And many more:
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/forums/243-Futurism

Maciamo
23-03-18, 18:53
If robots take over, and produce in our place, how do we get the money to buy what the robots produce ? How can we disconnect production (+ salary) from consumption (= expense)? Learn to live with it all right, but then it is an entirely new socio-economic model that remains to be invented. It takes a degree of optimism to imagine we'll go unhurt through such unprecedented changes.

Of course, there are still many things to figure out. Many experts think that a society where robots/AI produce everything and take care of most services (transports, doctors, bankers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, translators, cleaners, shop assistants, waiters...) can only work if the state provides universal income (with money from taxing the owners of the robots). Otherwise there would be no consumers any more and owning the machines will become just as pointless.

But people in every country are faced with this new kind of society. My point was that there is no reason for Southern Europeans to be more pessimistic about the future than for anybody else. Robots will take all jobs everywhere, not just in Southern Europe.

Ygorcs
23-03-18, 18:57
The new World Happiness Report 2018 (https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2018/WHR_web.pdf) was published last week. 156 countries were surveyed. The ranking includes a number of factors such as y: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.

Generosity is based on the question “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?”. However I fail to see how this impact local happiness, as charities are often international (e.g. scientific research) or geared toward poorer countries.

The survey also includes what they call "Positive affect" (defined as the average of previous-day affect measures for
happiness, laughter, and enjoyment) and "Negative affect" (defined as the average of previous-day affect measures for worry, sadness, and anger). These two are averaged in the Dystopia category, which is the biggest component of the Happiness Index.

Here is the top 25.

1. Finland (7.632)
2. Norway (7.594)
3. Denmark (7.555)
4. Iceland (7.495)
5. Switzerland (7.487)
6. Netherlands (7.441)
7. Canada (7.328)
8. New Zealand (7.324)
9. Sweden (7.314)
10. Australia (7.272)
11. Israel (7.190)
12. Austria (7.139)
13. Costa Rica (7.072)
14. Ireland (6.977)
15. Germany (6.965)
16. Belgium (6.927)
17. Luxembourg (6.910)
18. United States (6.886)
19. United Kingdom (6.814)
20. United Arab Emirates (6.774)
21. Czech Republic (6.711)
22. Malta (6.627)
23. France (6.489)
24. Mexico (6.488)
25. Chile (6.476)

Not too many surprises here, except maybe the good scores of Costa Rica (but it has been ranking well for years), Mexico and Chile compared to their GDP and life expectancy. Costa Rica, Mexico and other Central American nations (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua) perform exceptionally well (better than most Western countries) for the Dystopia score, meaning that their subjective happiness can be high despite corruption, lower life expectancy and lower material wealth than rich countries.

The Czechs rank much higher than the Spaniards, Italians or any other Slavic or Baltic country. Once again, it is because of their positive attitude to life (Dystopia score).

Some developed countries perform surprisingly poorly for their level of development.

34. Singapore (6.343)
36. Spain (6.310)
47. Italy (6.000)
51. Slovenia (5.948)
54. Japan (5.915)
57. South Korea (5.875)
61. Cyprus (5.762)
63. Estonia (5.739)
69. Hungary (5.620)
76. Hong Kong SAR, China (5.430)
77. Portugal (5.410)
79. Greece (5.358)

Singapore has the highest score of any country for all factors combined except Dystopia. This is a good example of how material wealth does not bring happiness. Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are in the same situation. Japan would have the same overall score as the USA, Germany or Belgium were it not for the Dystopia factor. Hong Kong ranks even higher in statistics, closer to Scandinavian countries, but is even less happy.

In fact, many of the countries that are unhappier than one would expect from statistics have high suicide rates. This is the case of Japan and South Korea, and of Poland, Estonia and Hungary in Europe. South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world after Lithuania. All Northeast European countries have high suicide rates, and that can be partly explained by the climate (and post-communist gloom).

However that is not the case of Southern European countries. Portugal Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Greece have some of the lowest suicide rates in the developed world. So why is it that the Maltese are so much happier than their Mediterranean neighbours? Except for Spain, all these countries are less happy than most Latin American nations, Poland, Slovakia or Uzbekistan, despite higher levels of development.

What makes it all the more astonishing is that Mediterranean countries enjoy great climates, excellent food and are generally more relaxed cultures taking time to enjoy life (long lunches, siestas, rich sex life, lots of friends, dolce vita). That may be a bit stereotypical, but that is certainly more true than in many other parts of the world. France actually fits in that cultural scene too, and it too performs less well than countries with equivalent levels of development (UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany). So what causes speakers of Greek and Romance languages in Europe to be so negative? Is it down to genetics? Is it because of the economic malaise since the 2008 crisis? (most countries have recovered by now, so it's doubtful). I am at a loss.

That's very interesting. Costa Rica consistently apppears among the better 15 or 20 almost every year and not just in this specific report. They should be studied because they certainly have social and cultural leanings that make them individually happier even in the absense of fully developed social/collective conditions. Individual perceptions and attitudes toward life in my opinion are even more important the conditions of the surrounding social environment, at least above a certain level of human development and income per capita (let's say that these things are really decisive until that point where all your immediate survival needs are fully and safely met, from that point on the individual feelings and the "microcosm" of social networks are more important).

I don't know if Portugal can be representative of all Mediterranean countries, but if it is I have a personal impression, from the point of view of many Brazilians, that could explain that underperformance, especially compared for example to much poorer Latin American countries. The Portuguese have a certain "reputation" of being too whiny, complaining too much about anything even when things are not perfect but are more than acceptable, and having a certain habit of being not only critical (that's good... with a grain of salt), but always seeing the potential problems and downsides of most things. And that can ultimately become very depressing and pessimistic even though that attitude is sometimes welcome against the wishful thinking and blindness of many Brazilians (though Brazilians are also a bunch of people who complain too much, but usually in a humorous way and just out of a tendency to whine as poor victims "of the system", not that much real critical thinking).

Ygorcs
23-03-18, 19:03
In fact, many of the countries that are unhappier than one would expect from statistics have high suicide rates. This is the case of Japan and South Korea, and of Poland, Estonia and Hungary in Europe. South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world after Lithuania. All Northeast European countries have high suicide rates, and that can be partly explained by the climate (and post-communist gloom).

Didn't Finland, now the world's happiest country as per this report, have a very high suicide rate at least a few years ago? I remember having done a homework about "curious things about Finland" in my English classes more than 10 years ago and I was quite surprised about those abnormally high suicide rates, which I could only think were related to the climate and perhaps to a certain lack of close-knit family and community ties.

Ygorcs
23-03-18, 19:14
However that is not the case of Southern European countries. Portugal Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Greece have some of the lowest suicide rates in the developed world. So why is it that the Maltese are so much happier than their Mediterranean neighbours? Except for Spain, all these countries are less happy than most Latin American nations, Poland, Slovakia or Uzbekistan, despite higher levels of development.

What makes it all the more astonishing is that Mediterranean countries enjoy great climates, excellent food and are generally more relaxed cultures taking time to enjoy life (long lunches, siestas, rich sex life, lots of friends, dolce vita). That may be a bit stereotypical, but that is certainly more true than in many other parts of the world. France actually fits in that cultural scene too, and it too performs less well than countries with equivalent levels of development (UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany). So what causes speakers of Greek and Romance languages in Europe to be so negative? Is it down to genetics? Is it because of the economic malaise since the 2008 crisis? (most countries have recovered by now, so it's doubtful). I am at a loss.

Don't forget the absurdly high rates of youth unemployment in almost all the Mediterranean region coupled with the very high and still unrelentingly increasing proportion of old people under increasing financial restrictions. My guess is that most of that "dystopian" feelings come from the two tail ends of the adult cohorts, and not from more established and still active people in their later 30's and 40's.

Ygorcs
23-03-18, 19:30
The sharpest drop worldwide in the last 5 years was in Venezuela, which passed from 19th happiest to 102th!

They'd have to be crazy not to drop that much. Not only are they amidst a horrible crisis that makes even present Brazil look promising and paradisical (I'm not kidding, Brazil is just getting out of its worst economic crisis ever - well, at least since the 19th century - and it still received more than 40,000 Venezuelan immigrants just last year)... but, worst of all, crime in Venezuela is totally out of control, the gangs and highly organized and well equipped criminal organizations have gained too much influence and power in several places, virtually competing with the state (that's a Latin American phenomenon that's worsening in the last 10 years, but let's just say that Venezuela is way ahead in that process and got into a virtually chaotic situation). It's not just about an ineffective and increasingly authoritarian government or an economic crisis ("just"). The Venezuelans, like Brazilians, are increasingly let down by the utter perception of public unsafety and abnormally high proportions of murdered or injured people all round them, but probably 3x times as seriously as some of their South American neighbors (and we know that comparative perceptions count a lot for a people to feel unhappier).

Ygorcs
23-03-18, 19:34
Southern Europeans never tell the truth in polls. The general attitude is to tease the interviewer. So the whole poll is bolloni. How can one live in Island and be happy, or Canada or Finland, with that terrible weather? Only for being born in Mediterranean is a 50% bonus to be happy, with magic taste of food, magic nature, terrific people.
Oh, that "50% bonus" definitely becomes 40%, 30%, 20%, 10% bonus the longer you live in the place, my friend. People still acknowledge how lucky they are and so on, but virtually nobody becomes a happy person - not just momentary moments of satisfaction - just because he or she lives amidst a wonderful natural landscape or eats a very good food. The gains from those things like beauty and physical pleasures tend to be diminishing every year as one gets used to them, and even more so when they are the reality that you know since you were born. People usually don't value that much things that they take for granted, only when they lose the.

hrvclv
23-03-18, 21:28
We mused about this already:
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/34400-Robots-are-destroying-cashflow-in-economy

https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/32304-What-would-people-do-when-robots-produce-everything

And many more:
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/forums/243-Futurism

Thanks. I'll take a look. I must confess I haven't explored the whole forum very thoroughly yet. I tend to hop on the threads under way when I get online.

Promenade
23-03-18, 22:08
If robots take over, and produce in our place, how do we get the money to buy what the robots produce ? How can we disconnect production (+ salary) from consumption (= expense)? Learn to live with it all right, but then it is an entirely new socio-economic model that remains to be invented. It takes a degree of optimism to imagine we'll go unhurt through such unprecedented changes.


I think the fear of robotics is rather unwarranted and some of their expected effects misunderstood or exaggerated. I cannot say when or at what pace they will eliminate the majority of traditional jobs or speculate on what kind of radical changes the singularity would bring, but so far most jobs in western countries have not been lost due to automation, but to outsourcing labor. What about in the future though? When we compare a robot to a person on an assembly line who is more productive? Well the robot is, but when you have a robot and a person working in tandem on this line they are actually more productive working together than either are alone. Then we have to also imagine who will design and develop this robot, who will program it, who will keep its maintenance and install it? Until the intelligence and dexterity of robots reach the level of a human, (an occasion where we would have a lot more to consider than just economics) there is still plenty of opportunity for human labor to thrive along side automation.

So what is going wrong now then? Well moderately skilled labor that has been the core of the middle class in the past is shrinking both due to automation and outsourcing, but the good news is that low skilled labor jobs are still increasing and high skilled labor growth is exploding. So what should we do? Perhaps instead of implementing Universal Basic Income we should consider using the excess capital from automation to pay for educating those in former middle income jobs so they can fill this growing demand for high skilled labor, continue contributing to the economy and innovation while improving their own economic and social standing. If we still believe in a capitalist system and that the future holds more economic growth then the best investment we can possibly make is towards increasing human capital. Obtaining education is quite expensive in the US (Although this is not an existential threat as some might believe, 80 percent of all college debt is owed by 20 percent of debtors) and this would be a practical solution towards solving issues involving college debt/high cost of educational obtainment, high skill labor demand and addressing job polarization due to automation.


Didn't Finland, now the world's happiest country as per this report, have a very high suicide rate at least a few years ago? I remember having done a homework about "curious things about Finland" in my English classes more than 10 years ago and I was quite surprised about those abnormally high suicide rates, which I could only think were related to the climate and perhaps to a certain lack of close-knit family and community ties.


The economic success of nordic countries like Finland here are most likely skewing them higher than they should be. Even the paper admits "well-being is better assessed by subjective well-being measures than by indicators of its potential drivers." There are certainly decreasing returns to scale here with how much national socioeconomic factors influence individual happiness. Wealth and economic prosperity of the nation probably matters up to a point in terms of happiness, just as it does on the individual scale. If you are from a nation that used to be poor and has recently begun to stock it's shelves with bread the happiness that bread affords you will be much greater than the variety of bread choices in a more developed nation. In fact that variety might just make your more anxious about your choices and dissatisfied with what purchase you make in the end. When a country meets a level where it can afford the basic needs of it's citizens it is more likely that culture will play a more important factor in happiness than anything economic. I'm willing to "bet" it also works like gambling: in the same way losing 500 dollars one night makes you angrier than the happiness you receive from winning 1000 dollars another night, an effect we can see in the Mediterranean nations.

Maciamo
24-03-18, 10:59
Oh, that "50% bonus" definitely becomes 40%, 30%, 20%, 10% bonus the longer you live in the place, my friend. People still acknowledge how lucky they are and so on, but virtually nobody becomes a happy person - not just momentary moments of satisfaction - just because he or she lives amidst a wonderful natural landscape or eats a very good food. The gains from those things like beauty and physical pleasures tend to be diminishing every year as one gets used to them, and even more so when they are the reality that you know since you were born. People usually don't value that much things that they take for granted, only when they lose the.

You probably have a valid point here. People get used to beauty after a while and take it for granted the same way they get used to a bigger home, nicer car, faster Internet connection, more advanced smartphone... Technologies we thought were amazing a few years ago are now the norm and that leaves us craving for even better products. That is essentially why money doesn't augment happiness past a certain point. People who win the lottery may become ecstatic for a few weeks or months, then little by little they get used to their new lifestyle and their mood returns to what it used to be. Many studies have shown that ultimately happiness is set in one's genes.

I read The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country (https://www.amazon.com/Year-Living-Danishly-Uncovering-Happiest/dp/1785780239), and after analysing every aspect of Danish lifestyle, the author had to come to the conclusion that Danes are just naturally happier because of their DNA. The explanation was that Nordic winter is so bleak and lacking in sunlight that a natural selection took place over the centuries and millennia, and only those who had a cheery disposition survived (others died of depression, depression-induced illnesses or committed suicide). That is very likely to be true and explain perfectly why Nordic countries rank the highest in happiness. Finland isn't that rich (25th worldwide in GDP per capita, around the same level as Belgium, France and the UK), nor is life expectancy exceptional (20th worldwide). The country is relatively boring, all flat, with long winters, hardly any history, and no cuisine to speak of. Yet the Finns are ranked as the happiest people on Earth. Like for Denmark there is no better explanation than genetics.

Scandinavian people spread their genes with the Germanic migrations, and genes for positive attitude and happiness were passed along with them. That explains why in the happiest Western countries in the list, the ranking follows very closely the percentage of Germanic/Nordic ancestry, with Finland and Scandinavia on top, followed by the Netherlands, countries with high British ancestry (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, besides the UK), Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, then Ireland, France and the Czech Republic.

https://cache.eupedia.com/images/content/Germanic_Europe.gif
https://www.eupedia.com/europe/maps_Y-DNA_haplogroups.shtml#Germanic

In fact studies about happiness were conducted within Germany and France to see differences between regions. Of course many factors influence regional happiness inside a country, like the sunshine and the local economic situation (East Germans cannot be expected to be as happy as West Germans). Yet, the study about Germany (https://www.thelocal.de/20161018/heres-where-germanys-happiest-people-live) found that the happiest people were those of the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, just under Denmark, followed by Hamburg - the two regions with the highest Germanic ancestry. The lowest were of course in East Germany.

The happiness survey for French regions (http://www.atlantico.fr/decryptage/pessimisme-carte-regions-francaises-plus-malheureuses-pierre-cote-682302.html) gave the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (https://www.eupedia.com/france/flanders-artois.shtml) (Flanders-Artois, historically a part of Belgium until the late 17th century) as the happiest region of France. This is not a given considering that it is one of the bleakest regions (war fields of WWI), with little sunshine, and one of the worst regional GDP per capita in the country, and the highest unemployment rate anywhere in France. The economic situation is so bad that it has become the home base for Marine Le Pen's Nation Front Party. Yet the region is the happiest, and that surely has something to do with the fact that people have by far the highest Germanic ancestry within France (actually they can't be considered ethnically French, but annexed Low Countries people).

Celtic and Roman genes did not undergo the same natural selection for natural optimism. French people were ranked as the most pessimistic in the world in a study (https://www.thelocal.fr/20161013/france-named-worlds-most-pessimistic-country) published in late 2016, with 88% of the population thinking that their country was going in the wrong direction. Other Latins were also pessimistic, with Mexicans, Brazilians, Italians and Spaniards completing the bottom 5 in the 25 countries surveyed. Another survey (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/which-countries-are-most-optimistic/) by the World Economic Forum in 2015 confirmed the French as both the most pessimistic people (88%) and the least optimistic (3%). Within Europe the most optimistic were the four Nordic countries.

The happiest Slavic-language country is unsurprisingly the Czech Republic, which has the highest Germanic ancestry, with levels of Germanic haplogroups similar to Austria and Switzerland.

Maciamo
24-03-18, 11:35
I think the fear of robotics is rather unwarranted and some of their expected effects misunderstood or exaggerated. I cannot say when or at what pace they will eliminate the majority of traditional jobs or speculate on what kind of radical changes the singularity would bring, but so far most jobs in western countries have not been lost due to automation, but to outsourcing labor. What about in the future though? When we compare a robot to a person on an assembly line who is more productive? Well the robot is, but when you have a robot and a person working in tandem on this line they are actually more productive working together than either are alone. Then we have to also imagine who will design and develop this robot, who will program it, who will keep its maintenance and install it? Until the intelligence and dexterity of robots reach the level of a human, (an occasion where we would have a lot more to consider than just economics) there is still plenty of opportunity for human labor to thrive along side automation.

Exactly. No robot exists yet with intelligence and dexterity on a par with a human being. But we are getting really close. All those robots are prototypes under development. At present, apart from robots replacing waiters (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvzrP2lrvqA) or hotel staff (https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/aug/14/japan-henn-na-hotel-staffed-by-robots), which is seen more as a tourist attraction due to its novelty, robots aren't a cause of worry for taking people's jobs. But as soon as you combine robots with this kind of dexterity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqrBi6_1cFs), this physical aptitude (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBaPRT6koY0) and that kind of AI (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFR3lOm_xhE), (actually the video is 7 years old, AI is much closer to human intelligence now), we are going to have robots very much like in the Swedish series Real Humans (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwh3xxozlZs) or its recent British spin-off Humans (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU4mwlTUXnc).

We are really on the verge of a big societal change. Self-driving cars are in their infancy, and today we have mostly regular cars with lots of automated functions. But in a few years fully self-driving cars will hit the market (automated taxis for the Tokyo Olympics (http://fortune.com/2017/06/15/tokyo-2020-olympics-self-driving-cars/)in 2 years). Now, no taxi driver has lost his job because of automation. As soon as self-driving taxis hit the market, it will only take a few years before all human jobs are lost in that sector. The same is true for everything else. Today we are at a point where automation completes human work and help increase human productivity. This is essentially why the economy in developed countries has been doing so well in recent years and unemployment has sharply fallen in many Western countries since 2009, reaching some of the lowest levels seen in a generation. But I expect that within 7 years (by 2025) robots will have become good enough and cheap enough to start replacing humans in most sectors.

Between 2025 and 2035 most human jobs will have become redundant, except those where a human presence is required or desired. The truth is that most people prefer a self-driving taxi to a human one if it is safer and cheaper, and won't go around the block three times to overcharge them. People (not just companies) prefer a software doing their accounting, taxes and legal paperwork, instead of the hassle of finding someone that is knowledgeable, reliable and honest. Humans are imperfect and too often prone to committing errors and trying to cheat other people to make more money. If we have the choice, who wouldn't go for the honest and error-free software or robot, especially if it is cheaper and easier. That's human nature and that is why it is going to happen.

Why rely on humans driving buses, trains and metros if we know that there is a high chance they will strike several times a year (well in places like Belgium, France, Spain and Italy at least) and prevent you to go where you want to go, causing hug traffic jams even for those who have their own cars? That's simply unacceptable to most people and I can say that I will be very happy once the transport industry is free of human interference if it makes everything run more smoothly, safely and predictably. Why waste time going to physical shops and risking not finding what you need when you can order online in a few clicks? Why prefer a delivery man to a delivery drone when the man is likely to leave note in your postbox instead of ringing at the door to deliver your Amazon package because he doesn't have time? (something all too common with UPS in particular here) Hardly a day goes by when I am not disappointed by humans doing their job poorly, leaving me wishing for automations to replace them. I am sure I am not the only one, nor in the minority.

Maciamo
24-03-18, 13:12
Didn't Finland, now the world's happiest country as per this report, have a very high suicide rate at least a few years ago? I remember having done a homework about "curious things about Finland" in my English classes more than 10 years ago and I was quite surprised about those abnormally high suicide rates, which I could only think were related to the climate and perhaps to a certain lack of close-knit family and community ties.

It is contre-intuitive, but it is normal that a high seasonal suicide rate correlates with higher happiness. Let me explain. If, as I explained above, Nordic people are happier for genetic reasons, it is because people who do not have genes for exceptional cheerfulness and optimism do end up killing themselves more frequently, often as young people, therefore not passing their genes. That is how natural selection works. But one of the prerequisites is a challenging natural environment (very little sunlight between November and February in this case).

That does not apply to all suicide rates worldwide. For example, in East Asia suicide is not more common in autumn and winter. In fact, this study (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1010539513491420) found that the opposite is true for Japan (highest suicide rates from March to July + October). Suicide in Japan is often work related. It happens to office workers who often work very long hours (sometimes several days in a row without sleeping) and just can't take it anymore. Another cause is shame (East Asian cultures are much more shame-driven (https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/15545-Shame-driven-or-Guilt-driven), as opposed to guilt-driven Western cultures), although this is also typically work related (e.g. failure to reach one's objectives). It's not a coincidence that samurai committed seppuku (ritual disembowelment) out of shame for having lost their honour or lost a battle. That's part of the East Asian mindset. But it has nothing to do with overall happiness in the society. It has more to do with the strong collectivist culture in which one's life is seen as worthless if one is excluded from the group or loses honour in an irretrievable manner. Nevertheless such cultures do put a lot of pressure on individuals on an everyday basis, and that may be why East Asians are more anxious and less joyful (bad score for Dystopia).

Ygorcs
24-03-18, 21:19
The explanation was that Nordic winter is so bleak and lacking in sunlight that a natural selection took place over the centuries and millennia, and only those who had a cheery disposition survived (others died of depression, depression-induced illnesses or committed suicide). That is very likely to be true and explain perfectly why Nordic countries rank the highest in happiness.

In my opinion, that can only be a very probable explanation if we manage to prove that there is a consistently higher level of happiness induced by slow natural selection in all the societies that are in similar latitudes as the Scandinavian nations. Do people in the northernmost parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, Ireland, Scotland and so on show the same pattern? If they don't, we should then investigate why natural selection didn't happen in them, or even if it happened at all in significant, game-changing ways. However, if that higher level of happiness is only found in Scandinavia and nowhere else with a similar exposure to sun and similar seasonal patterns, then we have to keep looking for cultural and social reasons, even the most unlikely ones. Particularly, in any country, not only in Scandinavia, I'd look for the small but decisive things that happen in the family home, in the micro level of schools and neighborhood communities, and in the work environment. I'd bet that those things in the long term matter much more than things that, after some years, cause a lot of excitement only on tourists, like historic buildings, natural landscapes, etc.

P.S.: Just one small doubt about your very interesting and thought-provoking correlations between level of happiness/optimism and Germanic ancestry... doesn't Finland, according to the map you provided, have quite little Germanic admixture at all? So why and how would they be related to that supposed spread of happiness genes to other regions along the routes of Germanic/Scandinavian expansion? (though I'd guess that Corded Ware-related admixture must exist in significant percentage there, I'd be interestest to know how much the Uralic and, possibly only much later, speciifically Finnic migrations and assimilation changed the local autosomal DNA)

Ygorcs
24-03-18, 21:53
It is contre-intuitive, but it is normal that a high seasonal suicide rate correlates with higher happiness. Let me explain. If, as I explained above, Nordic people are happier for genetic reasons, it is because people who do not have genes for exceptional cheerfulness and optimism do end up killing themselves more frequently, often as young people, therefore not passing their genes. That is how natural selection works. But one of the prerequisites is a challenging natural environment (very little sunlight between November and February in this case).

That does not apply to all suicide rates worldwide. For example, in East Asia suicide is not more common in autumn and winter. In fact, this study (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1010539513491420) found that the opposite is true for Japan (highest suicide rates from March to July + October). Suicide in Japan is often work related. It happens to office workers who often work very long hours (sometimes several days in a row without sleeping) and just can't take it anymore. Another cause is shame (East Asian cultures are much more shame-driven (https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/15545-Shame-driven-or-Guilt-driven), as opposed to guilt-driven Western cultures), although this is also typically work related (e.g. failure to reach one's objectives). It's not a coincidence that samurai committed seppuku (ritual disembowelment) out of shame for having lost their honour or lost a battle. That's part of the East Asian mindset. But it has nothing to do with overall happiness in the society. It has more to do with the strong collectivist culture in which one's life is seen as worthless if one is excluded from the group or loses honour in an irretrievable manner. Nevertheless such cultures do put a lot of pressure on individuals on an everyday basis, and that may be why East Asians are more anxious and less joyful (bad score for Dystopia).

That really makes perfect sense! I hadn't thought much about the different causes of higher suicide rates, but, yes, they do manifest different social conditions that may or may not be very related to the overall individual happiness of the society at large.

Maciamo
25-03-18, 10:26
In my opinion, that can only be a very probable explanation if we manage to prove that there is a consistently higher level of happiness induced by slow natural selection in all the societies that are in similar latitudes as the Scandinavian nations. Do people in the northernmost parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, Ireland, Scotland and so on show the same pattern? If they don't, we should then investigate why natural selection didn't happen in them, or even if it happened at all in significant, game-changing ways. However, if that higher level of happiness is only found in Scandinavia and nowhere else with a similar exposure to sun and similar seasonal patterns, then we have to keep looking for cultural and social reasons, even the most unlikely ones. Particularly, in any country, not only in Scandinavia, I'd look for the small but decisive things that happen in the family home, in the micro level of schools and neighborhood communities, and in the work environment. I'd bet that those things in the long term matter much more than things that, after some years, cause a lot of excitement only on tourists, like historic buildings, natural landscapes, etc.

P.S.: Just one small doubt about your very interesting and thought-provoking correlations between level of happiness/optimism and Germanic ancestry... doesn't Finland, according to the map you provided, have quite little Germanic admixture at all? So why and how would they be related to that supposed spread of happiness genes to other regions along the routes of Germanic/Scandinavian expansion? (though I'd guess that Corded Ware-related admixture must exist in significant percentage there, I'd be interestest to know how much the Uralic and, possibly only much later, speciifically Finnic migrations and assimilation changed the local autosomal DNA)

Good point. Finland's case actually gives you a partial answer to your question, as they are not a Germanic people but are just as happy as the Scandinavians by evolving for thousands of years at the same latitude. However the natural selection between Scandinavians, Saami and Finns most probably evolved conjointly, as these population did intermix with one another, exchanging any gene for optimism and resistance to depression or negative feelings induced by lack of sunlight. All of them inherited DNA from Mesolithic Fennoscandians (SHG), who have inhabited the region since it became ice free 13,000 years ago (well, at least since 11,000 years ago from archaeological evidence). Germanic culture did not appear until about 1000 o 500 BCE, although Indo-European genes arrived with the Corded Ware (from 2800 BCE) and Nordic Bronze Age (from 1700 BCE). The Finns and Saami probably reached Fennoscandia with the development of the Kiukainen culture (2300-1500 BCE). So the current ethnic groups are relatively young (3000 to 4500 years) compared to the time the genes of first Mesolithic HG (mostly inherited maternally through mtDNA U2, U4 and U5) spent in Fennoscandia. Once a positive mutation arose in one individual (and that could have been back in the Mesolithic), it would have spread quickly in the population, including to later waves of immigrants/invaders. So the fact that the Finns and Scandinavians speak different languages named after Bronze Age invaders does not mean that they aren't related (through their shared SHG ancestry). Besides, the western and southern coast of Finland were heavily colonised by Scandinavians (mostly Swedes) between the Middle Ages and the 19th century, and you can see on the map above that these regions are really quite Germanic ethnically (and even linguistically in the west as Swedish is still spoken and an official language there). So even if the gene(s) for happiness or optimism or resilience arose in the last 4000 years, there was plenty of opportunity for the Finns and Scandinavians to exchange them.

It would be great to see if North Siberians and the Inuits and Eskimo of Canada and Alaska have also developed some sort of genetic resistance of their own for life in northern latitudes. My guess is that they did, otherwise they wouldn't have survived. But these are not necessarily the same mutations as Fennoscandians. If they were, then chances are that the mutation was exchanged across Siberia between Uralic populations. I can't see how Inuits/Eskimos could have exchanged any genes with Siberians though, as they were cut off from them 13,000 years ago. Unless of course one or several mutation was already found in Paleolithic North Asians, but that's unlikely as it would have spread throughout Eurasia over time.

Unfortunately there is no survey on happiness from tribal Siberians, Eskimos or Inuits. We also don't know for sure how long they have lived in the areas they inhabit now. Haplogroup N1c, the main lineage associated with Uralic people, originated in Neolithic northern China. According to Honkola et al. (2013) (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jeb.12107), Proto-Uralic language originated 5000 years ago, and genetic and archaeological evidence suggest that they spread from the Volga-Ural region in the last 4000 years. So the Nenets, Nganasans, Mansi, Khanty, Komi and Selkups haven't lived at the same northernly latitude as Fennoscandia for longer than 3000 or 4000 years at most, a far cry from the 11,000 years of Mesolithic Fennoscandians. Furthermore, their populations have always been tiny in comparison to Scandinavia. Today there are only about 100,000 Uralic people in northern Siberia, against 26 millions people in Scandinavia and Finland. That is because Europe benefits from the Gulf Stream which warms up the continent and allows farming at much more northerly latitudes than in Canada or Siberia. Scandinavia was always more densely population than northern Siberia, and it was colonised thousands of years earlier, giving a considerable head start to natural selection to live in northerly latitudes.

What's more, the larger a population, the faster it adapts to local conditions, as more babies mean more mutations, and a higher population density makes new favourable mutations spread faster throughout the population. Imagine that a favourable mutation took place in a Nganassan individual. How would it spread to other Siberian people if they live in tiny communities hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from other tribes? Even if they occasionally exchanged brides, the process would be extremely slow.

As for the Eskimos and Inuits in North America, they have also colonised the Arctic region relatively recently. Paleo-Eskimo culture emerged 5000 years ago (same as Proto-Uralic) and started spreading around Alaska from 4000 years ago. The Proto-Inuits (Thule people (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thule_people)) appeared 1000 years ago and did not reach Greenland until the 13th century, i.e. about 200 years after the Vikings reached Greenland! They are newcomers to the region and I doubt that they developed a lot of beneficial mutations in such a short timeframe and with such a tiny population (150,000 people).

So there is really no equivalent anywhere else on Earth to Fennoscandia. It is the only place above 60° of latitude that was inhabited for so long (11,000 years, as opposed to maximum 4000 years elsewhere) and that is warm enough to support high population densities.

Ygorcs
25-03-18, 22:08
Good point. Finland's case actually gives you a partial answer to your question, as they are not a Germanic people but are just as happy as the Scandinavians by evolving for thousands of years at the same latitude. However the natural selection between Scandinavians, Saami and Finns most probably evolved conjointly, as these population did intermix with one another, exchanging any gene for optimism and resistance to depression or negative feelings induced by lack of sunlight. All of them inherited DNA from Mesolithic Fennoscandians (SHG), who have inhabited the region since it became ice free 13,000 years ago (well, at least since 11,000 years ago from archaeological evidence). Germanic culture did not appear until about 1000 o 500 BCE, although Indo-European genes arrived with the Corded Ware (from 2800 BCE) and Nordic Bronze Age (from 1700 BCE). The Finns and Saami probably reached Fennoscandia with the development of the Kiukainen culture (2300-1500 BCE). So the current ethnic groups are relatively young (3000 to 4500 years) compared to the time the genes of first Mesolithic HG (mostly inherited maternally through mtDNA U2, U4 and U5) spent in Fennoscandia. Once a positive mutation arose in one individual (and that could have been back in the Mesolithic), it would have spread quickly in the population, including to later waves of immigrants/invaders. So the fact that the Finns and Scandinavians speak different languages named after Bronze Age invaders does not mean that they aren't related (through their shared SHG ancestry). Besides, the western and southern coast of Finland were heavily colonised by Scandinavians (mostly Swedes) between the Middle Ages and the 19th century, and you can see on the map above that these regions are really quite Germanic ethnically (and even linguistically in the west as Swedish is still spoken and an official language there). So even if the gene(s) for happiness or optimism or resilience arose in the last 4000 years, there was plenty of opportunity for the Finns and Scandinavians to exchange them.

It would be great to see if North Siberians and the Inuits and Eskimo of Canada and Alaska have also developed some sort of genetic resistance of their own for life in northern latitudes. My guess is that they did, otherwise they wouldn't have survived. But these are not necessarily the same mutations as Fennoscandians. If they were, then chances are that the mutation was exchanged across Siberia between Uralic populations. I can't see how Inuits/Eskimos could have exchanged any genes with Siberians though, as they were cut off from them 13,000 years ago. Unless of course one or several mutation was already found in Paleolithic North Asians, but that's unlikely as it would have spread throughout Eurasia over time.

Unfortunately there is no survey on happiness from tribal Siberians, Eskimos or Inuits. We also don't know for sure how long they have lived in the areas they inhabit now. Haplogroup N1c, the main lineage associated with Uralic people, originated in Neolithic northern China. According to Honkola et al. (2013) (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jeb.12107), Proto-Uralic language originated 5000 years ago, and genetic and archaeological evidence suggest that they spread from the Volga-Ural region in the last 4000 years. So the Nenets, Nganasans, Mansi, Khanty, Komi and Selkups haven't lived at the same northernly latitude as Fennoscandia for longer than 3000 or 4000 years at most, a far cry from the 11,000 years of Mesolithic Fennoscandians. Furthermore, their populations have always been tiny in comparison to Scandinavia. Today there are only about 100,000 Uralic people in northern Siberia, against 26 millions people in Scandinavia and Finland. That is because Europe benefits from the Gulf Stream which warms up the continent and allows farming at much more northerly latitudes than in Canada or Siberia. Scandinavia was always more densely population than northern Siberia, and it was colonised thousands of years earlier, giving a considerable head start to natural selection to live in northerly latitudes.

What's more, the larger a population, the faster it adapts to local conditions, as more babies mean more mutations, and a higher population density makes new favourable mutations spread faster throughout the population. Imagine that a favourable mutation took place in a Nganassan individual. How would it spread to other Siberian people if they live in tiny communities hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from other tribes? Even if they occasionally exchanged brides, the process would be extremely slow.

As for the Eskimos and Inuits in North America, they have also colonised the Arctic region relatively recently. Paleo-Eskimo culture emerged 5000 years ago (same as Proto-Uralic) and started spreading around Alaska from 4000 years ago. The Proto-Inuits (Thule people (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thule_people)) appeared 1000 years ago and did not reach Greenland until the 13th century, i.e. about 200 years after the Vikings reached Greenland! They are newcomers to the region and I doubt that they developed a lot of beneficial mutations in such a short timeframe and with such a tiny population (150,000 people).

So there is really no equivalent anywhere else on Earth to Fennoscandia. It is the only place above 60° of latitude that was inhabited for so long (11,000 years, as opposed to maximum 4000 years elsewhere) and that is warm enough to support high population densities.

Fascinating comment, but let me just point out that, as for what you said about "I can't see how Inuits/Eskimos could have exchanged any genes with Siberians though, as they were cut off from them 13,000 years ago", that is actually not a problem at all in my opinion, because the Inuits/Modern Esikmos do not descend mostly from the Native Americans that colonized America 13,000-15,000 years ago. They're in fact a much, much latter wave of Siberian migrants that (but probably one that already lived in very northern latitudes in Asia, as we can see from their genetic mutations which seem to favor living in very cold climates). According to the most recent genetic evidences combined with the archaeological evidences, probably only came to the northern portion of America some 2,000-3,000 YBP, and there they absorbed the Paleo-Eskimos as a minority of their genetic makeup. Those Paleo-Eskimos were a totally different people, but were themselves also a relatively recent people in the New World, a mix of the ancient Amerindian wave with a latter, but not latest (that was the Inuit migration wave), migration dating to about 5,000 YBP related to modern Athabaskan languages of America and also very probably to the Yeniseian languages of Siberia. So, at least theoretically, the Inuits could perfectly have exchanged genes with other North Siberian populations (perhaps even with Uralic speakers during the Bronze Age), because until a few milennia ago they were still in the Arctic portion of Asia, not in the Americas. If that really happened, especially with such low population densities and huge constraints to mobility in the northern part of Siberia, is another, more unlikely matter.

Maciamo
26-03-18, 08:21
Fascinating comment, but let me just point out that, as for what you said about "I can't see how Inuits/Eskimos could have exchanged any genes with Siberians though, as they were cut off from them 13,000 years ago", that is actually not a problem at all in my opinion, because the Inuits/Modern Esikmos do not descend mostly from the Native Americans that colonized America 13,000-15,000 years ago. They're in fact a much, much latter wave of Siberian migrants that (but probably one that already lived in very northern latitudes in Asia, as we can see from their genetic mutations which seem to favor living in very cold climates). According to the most recent genetic evidences combined with the archaeological evidences, probably only came to the northern portion of America some 2,000-3,000 YBP, and there they absorbed the Paleo-Eskimos as a minority of their genetic makeup. Those Paleo-Eskimos were a totally different people, but were themselves also a relatively recent people in the New World, a mix of the ancient Amerindian wave with a latter, but not latest (that was the Inuit migration wave), migration dating to about 5,000 YBP related to modern Athabaskan languages of America and also very probably to the Yeniseian languages of Siberia. So, at least theoretically, the Inuits could perfectly have exchanged genes with other North Siberian populations (perhaps even with Uralic speakers during the Bronze Age), because until a few milennia ago they were still in the Arctic portion of Asia, not in the Americas. If that really happened, especially with such low population densities and huge constraints to mobility in the northern part of Siberia, is another, more unlikely matter.

I didn't know that. What is your source? Maybe you are referring to the Na-Dene tribes of NW Canada and Alaska only? Dulik et al. (2012) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3365193/) analysed the Y-DNA of Athapaskan- and Eskimoan-speaking populations and found that, if we exclude recent European introgression, the Athabaskan-speakers (Na-Dene linguistic family) such as the Tłı̨chǫ and Gwich'in were about half C3b (the typical "Mongolian" Y-DNA, now called C2a) and half Native American Q1a-M3. However, the Inuit people, such as the Inuvialuit and the Iñupiat belonged exclusively to haplogroup Q1a-M3. Zegura et al. (2004) (https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/21/1/164/1114763) also found that Greenland Inuits only possessed Y-DNA Q1a-M3 (once European lineages are deducted).

The Na-Dene speakers are thought to be related to the Yeniseian speakers from central Siberia (just north of Mongolia), who also belong to haplogroup C2a. They would represent a recent migration from Siberia to North America. However if they originated just north of Mongolia, at a latitude comparable to North Germany or South England, that wouldn't be northerly enough to be comparable to Scandinavia and Finland. Their absence of Y-DNA N1c also shows that they probably didn't mix with Uralic peoples, which isn't surprising as Uralic tribes are generally found in western to central-north Siberia, which isn't on the path from Mongolia to Alaska.

Ygorcs
26-03-18, 21:13
I didn't know that. What is your source? Maybe you are referring to the Na-Dene tribes of NW Canada and Alaska only? Dulik et al. (2012) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3365193/) analysed the Y-DNA of Athapaskan- and Eskimoan-speaking populations and found that, if we exclude recent European introgression, the Athabaskan-speakers (Na-Dene linguistic family) such as the Tłı̨chǫ and Gwich'in were about half C3b (the typical "Mongolian" Y-DNA, now called C2a) and half Native American Q1a-M3. However, the Inuit people, such as the Inuvialuit and the Iñupiat belonged exclusively to haplogroup Q1a-M3. Zegura et al. (2004) (https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/21/1/164/1114763) also found that Greenland Inuits only possessed Y-DNA Q1a-M3 (once European lineages are deducted).

The Na-Dene speakers are thought to be related to the Yeniseian speakers from central Siberia (just north of Mongolia), who also belong to haplogroup C2a. They would represent a recent migration from Siberia to North America. However if they originated just north of Mongolia, at a latitude comparable to North Germany or South England, that wouldn't be northerly enough to be comparable to Scandinavia and Finland. Their absence of Y-DNA N1c also shows that they probably didn't mix with Uralic peoples, which isn't surprising as Uralic tribes are generally found in western to central-north Siberia, which isn't on the path from Mongolia to Alaska.

There was a recent study that analyzed that issue of the several wave of migration in the Americas in depth, focusing on the Paleo-Eskimo, supposedly partial ancestors of the modern Athabaskan tribes.

I didn't find the link to the detailed discussions that I read at the time, but the ultimate source of them was this very interesting study (and they used ancient DNA to establish the connections that led to the modern peoples like Neo-Eskimos and Na-Dené):
https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2017/10/13/203018.full.pdf

In this study, we resolve the debate around the distinctive ancestry in Na-Dene and
determine the genetic origin of Neo-Eskimos and their relationships with Paleo-Eskimos
and Chukotko-Kamchatkan speakers. We present the first genomic data for ancient
Aleutians, ancient Northern Athabaskans, Chukotkan Neo- and Paleo-Eskimos, and
present-day Alaskan Iñupiat. We also present new genotyping data for West Siberian
populations (Enets, Kets, Nganasans, and Selkups). Analyzing these data in conjunction
with an extensive set of public sequencing and genotyping data, we demonstrate that the
population history of North America was shaped by two major admixture events between
Paleo-Eskimos and the First Americans, which gave rise to both the Neo-Eskimo and Na-Dene populations

Ygorcs
26-03-18, 21:23
Going back to the World Happiness Report 2018, what really stands out the most to me and is perhaps most striking and relevant is how some Latin American countries perform extremely well above their real weight if you consider their main ancestry (Southern European, African and Native American with varying proportions from country to country - and Southern Europe and Africa aren't in general very well positioned in the ranking), their actual levels of social and economic development, and especially their public and private levels of safety (which I'd assumed were very decisive to one's general feelings of happiness in life).

Brazil for example is ranked 75th in the Human Development Index (HDI) and is usually between ~70-80 in almost all relevant social and economic data. But it's still ranked as the 28th happiest country in the world. Mexico performs even better. They aren't exceptions. Most Latin American countries, with few exceptions like unfortunately present-day Venezuela (abnormal temporary conditions, not their usual conditions), perform above what we would expect from them if their social-economic development/happiness factor was similar to that of Southeast Asia, East Asia or Middle East. In the emerging, non-developed world, Latin America is pretty much peerless in terms of overall levels of happiness.

To explain that, the report puts a great emphasis on the particularities of family bonds and formation of social links (friends, workmates, etc.) among Latin Americans, and they seem to believe that those stronger, more intimate/affectionate and closer-knit relations are the "key" to explain the surprisingly high happiness in countries that are not only underdeveloped, but in several cases (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico) very violent and unsafe, in some cases even going through big economic crisis right now (that usually pulls down the level of happiness, and in fact they also did this time, as you can clearly see in the results that Brazil had a big dip in the happiness score after 2014, the start of its present crisis).

Are those patterns of social interaction really that unique (on a worldwide scale) in Latin America? Being Latin American myself, that is just social "life as usual" for me, so I'd be very curious to learn if there is really something very unusual - and, apparently, benefitial - in the way that people in Latin America form relations not only within the family, but also in their work, school, any collective environment.

Angela
26-03-18, 22:11
This is why I don't pay attention to these kinds of surveys or the conclusions you can draw from them. You can find data instantly which contradicts a lot of what is asserted here:
http://www.asia-pictures.net/spiritual_journey/images/osho-1/Prevalence%20of%20depression.gif

https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/antidepressant-consumption1.png?w=588&h=670

https://yaleglobalhealthreview.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/screen-shot-2015-05-16-at-12-07-48-pm.png


Frankly, I think a lot of it is down to the fact that Mediterranean people feel no sense of shame in admitting they're unhappy, gloomy, depressed, worried, anxious, you name it, and they're also not shy about criticizing their own country, people, you name it, whereas northerners, including Americans of northern extraction just, to be blunt, lie about it in my experience. You know they're really anxious and depressed, you even know why they feel that way, but when you ask it's "oh, fine, great, thank you, couldn't be better." Then they go away to get drunk or wasted out of their minds. I don't mean to sound mean. :) I do the first myself; it's one way I'm not typically Italian. I don't confide my troubles to other people, so I understand it, but drinking or drugging yourself is not the answer.

Clinical depression is different. If you've ever known anyone who has it you'd know. There's not necessarily a rhyme or reason, it can descend rapidly, it's very resistant to therapy and even to heavy duty medication, it runs in families so heavily genetic, and yes, it's more prevalent in northern Europeans and northwest Europeans, and tied to alcoholism. The data is there.

As for family and friendship bonds, I wouldn't know how to compare the ones in Italy to the ones in Latin America, having never lived there, but the bonds are very strong in Italy, even today from my relatives and all the people I know, although I see some younger Italians being taught to be ashamed of them by foreign media and visitors.

Jovialis
26-03-18, 22:47
This is why I don't pay attention to these kinds of surveys or the conclusions you can draw from them. You can find data instantly which contradicts a lot of what is asserted here:
http://www.asia-pictures.net/spiritual_journey/images/osho-1/Prevalence%20of%20depression.gif

https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/antidepressant-consumption1.png?w=588&h=670

https://yaleglobalhealthreview.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/screen-shot-2015-05-16-at-12-07-48-pm.png


Frankly, I think a lot of it is down to the fact that Mediterranean people feel no sense of shame in admitting they're unhappy, gloomy, depressed, worried, anxious, you name it, and they're also not shy about criticizing their own country, people, you name it, whereas northerners, including Americans of northern extraction just, to be blunt, lie about it in my experience. You know they're really anxious and depressed, you even know why they feel that way, but when you ask it's "oh, fine, great, thank you, couldn't be better." Then they go away to get drunk or wasted out of their minds. I don't mean to sound mean. :) I do the first myself; it's one way I'm not typically Italian. I don't confide my troubles to other people, so I understand it, but drinking or drugging yourself is not the answer.

Clinical depression is different. If you've ever known anyone who has it you'd know. There's not necessarily a rhyme or reason, it can descend rapidly, it's very resistant to therapy and even to heavy duty medication, it runs in families so heavily genetic, and yes, it's more prevalent in northern Europeans and northwest Europeans, and tied to alcoholism. The data is there.

As for family and friendship bonds, I wouldn't know how to compare the ones in Italy to the ones in Latin America, having never lived there, but the bonds are very strong in Italy, even today from my relatives and all the people I know, although I see some younger Italians being taught to be ashamed of them by foreign media and visitors.

From my experience I find this to be true as well.

Ygorcs
27-03-18, 00:01
Frankly, I think a lot of it is down to the fact that Mediterranean people feel no sense of shame in admitting they're unhappy, gloomy, depressed, worried, anxious, you name it, and they're also not shy about criticizing their own country, people, you name it, whereas northerners, including Americans of northern extraction just, to be blunt, lie about it in my experience. You know they're really anxious and depressed, you even know why they feel that way, but when you ask it's "oh, fine, great, thank you, couldn't be better." Then they go away to get drunk or wasted out of their minds. I don't mean to sound mean. :) I do the first myself; it's one way I'm not typically Italian. I don't confide my troubles to other people, so I understand it, but drinking or drugging yourself is not the answer.

Clinical depression is different. If you've ever known anyone who has it you'd know. There's not necessarily a rhyme or reason, it can descend rapidly, it's very resistant to therapy and even to heavy duty medication, it runs in families so heavily genetic, and yes, it's more prevalent in northern Europeans and northwest Europeans, and tied to alcoholism. The data is there.

As for family and friendship bonds, I wouldn't know how to compare the ones in Italy to the ones in Latin America, having never lived there, but the bonds are very strong in Italy, even today from my relatives and all the people I know, although I see some younger Italians being taught to be ashamed of them by foreign media and visitors.

While I certainly agree with some of your points, especially your observation about Southern Europeans' blunt honesty and Americans' often fake smiles (that could also apply perfectly to Brazil, so maybe it's a New World thing), I don't think it is adequate to measure the mean levels of happiness in any population by looking at the % of the population who have been diagnosed with depression. First of all, there is the decisive issue that in some countries people are much more open than in others to seeking medical help (and are thus diagnosed) and taking pills for some mental condition. I'd say in some countries people are even way too open to the idea of seeking a medical explanation and a medicine for everything they feel, while in others it's considered a last desperate measure or even a shame.

But besides that, there are several causes related to the condition of depression, and some of them don't even have to do with the actual degree of satisfaction or the actual agreeableness (or lack thereof) of people's lives. It actually even seems to me that people with tendencies to depression often feel even more unsupported and isolated when they're in a social environment that doesn't let them be totally honest and feel "normal" despite that.

There is nothing worse than feeling miserable among a bunch of people who are all so glad and cheerful, you feel even more strongly like a loser. Besides, there are demonstrably some genetic causes to depression, especially in several sad cases of people who even claim things like "I know my life is great, I don't have anything to complain about, but I just don't like to live, I don't feel alive" (and the guilt that often comes with that must make their depression even more unbearable).

Some people, for random reasons, may have a higher proportion of people genetically predisposed to depressive conditions and/or humor instability, even when and if the overall society they belong to actually shows high levels of life satisfaction.

Ygorcs
27-03-18, 00:05
As for family and friendship bonds, I wouldn't know how to compare the ones in Italy to the ones in Latin America, having never lived there, but the bonds are very strong in Italy, even today from my relatives and all the people I know, although I see some younger Italians being taught to be ashamed of them by foreign media and visitors.

That's also what I thought, and I found it really weird that the report attributes the much higher than average level of happiness among Latin Americans to their family relations and friendships, but had nothing to say about why that would supposedly not apply to Southern European countries, who even according to their own (the report's) graphs in the chapter 6 certainly rival the Latin Americans in several of the questions they used to measure the strength of social bonds in societies. The report should've made it clearer why they propose an explanation for Latin Americans' happiness that doesn't seem to have affected South Europe the same way, despite similar patterns of social relations.

In my opinion Latin Americans learned that kind of closely knit extended families at least in a relevant proportion from the Southern European settlers.

Angela
27-03-18, 00:52
While I certainly agree with some of your points, especially your observation about Southern Europeans' blunt honesty and Americans' often fake smiles (that could also apply perfectly to Brazil, so maybe it's a New World thing), I don't think it is adequate to measure the mean levels of happiness in any population by looking at the % of the population who have been diagnosed with depression. First of all, there is the decisive issue that in some countries people are much more open than in others to seeking medical help (and are thus diagnosed) and taking pills for some mental condition. I'd say in some countries people are even way too open to the idea of seeking a medical explanation and a medicine for everything they feel, while in others it's considered a last desperate measure or even a shame.

But besides that, there are several causes related to the condition of depression, and some of them don't even have to do with the actual degree of satisfaction or the actual agreeableness (or lack thereof) of people's lives. It actually even seems to me that people with tendencies to depression often feel even more unsupported and isolated when they're in a social environment that doesn't let them be totally honest and feel "normal" despite that.

There is nothing worse than feeling miserable among a bunch of people who are all so glad and cheerful, you feel even more strongly like a loser. Besides, there are demonstrably some genetic causes to depression, especially in several sad cases of people who even claim things like "I know my life is great, I don't have anything to complain about, but I just don't like to live, I don't feel alive" (and the guilt that often comes with that must make their depression even more unbearable).

Some people, for random reasons, may have a higher proportion of people genetically predisposed to depressive conditions and/or humor instability, even when and if the overall society they belong to actually shows high levels of life satisfaction.

I thought I was clear but I guess not. It's precisely my point that temporary gloominess or dissatisfaction caused by transitory (I hope), economic trials or reactions to migration, or any political turmoil have nothing to do either with any imagined genetic "propensity" to happiness, or on the contrary a propensity to "unhappiness" or depression.

Those are the things which ail Southern Europeans, and they express it openly because of a propensity for openness about their dissatisfactions or emotional state, an openness not shared by northern Europeans.

Yes, northern Europeans may be more open about admitting they need and taking medication, but there's nothing subjective about suicide stats. They are the ultimate measure of clinical depression.

Plus, all of this is based on what is essentially an extremely "subjective" thing, which is a "feeling of happiness". What some people call happiness I might call bovine contentment.

As to why the study doesn't address the inherent contradiction concerning "family bonds" in southern Europe versus Latin America, it's because they, in particular, and social scientists in general don't know what they're doing. Most studies cannot be replicated, which should tell us a lot, and part of that is because they are rife with unexamined and uncontrolled environmental factors, among them cultural ones.

Ygorcs
27-03-18, 01:26
I thought I was clear but I guess not. It's precisely my point that temporary gloominess or dissatisfaction caused by transitory (I hope), economic trials or reactions to migration, or any political turmoil have nothing to do either with any imagined genetic "propensity" to happiness, or on the contrary a propensity to "unhappiness" or depression.

Oh this being the case then I agree with you. I think that, if there is something, it's more likely the ultimate result of a complex interaction among many cultural, social and even merely circumstantial factors, not something "inherent" in any people's genome - though of course I meant "people" as in "average men and women", because it is of course demonstrated that some people have a higher % of people genetically predisposed to humor and anxiety disorders as well as depression.

Maciamo
27-03-18, 09:24
I thought I was clear but I guess not. It's precisely my point that temporary gloominess or dissatisfaction caused by transitory (I hope), economic trials or reactions to migration, or any political turmoil have nothing to do either with any imagined genetic "propensity" to happiness, or on the contrary a propensity to "unhappiness" or depression.

I disagree with this.

First, unhappiness and depression stats at the national level tend not to correlate. Nordic countries have higher depression and suicide rates than any southern European country, but still rank as the happiest. That's because depression tends to be seasonal (short-term) in Nordic countries, and suicides actually prune the gene pool from less resilient individuals, thus increasing natural optimism and innate happiness over time.

Secondly, there is no way that southern Europeans are currently unhappy as a reaction of mass immigration. As I explained above, all Germanic countries have higher percentages of asylum seekers and immigrants than any southern European country. Germany is an interesting case. According to EU statistics, by 2016 Germany has welcomed over 1.4 million refugees and asylum seekers, more than all other EU countries combined! In contrast, Greece only welcomed 72,000, Spain 28,000 and Portugal a paltry 2,500 individuals. Only Italy had any sizeable number in southern Europe (270.000), but still 19% of Germany's numbers. Even Sweden, with a population 6x smaller than Italy, had about the same number of refugees and asylum seekers (260,000).

What is more interesting is that happiness in Germany actually increased between 2012 and 2018, despite the refugee crisis! The same report using the same methodology ranked Germany 30th in 2012 but 15th in 2018. So, whatever people may think, the refugees have nothing to do with national happiness.

The same is true for the economic situation since all EU countries are better off economically now than they were in 2012, and most have recovered to levels equivalent or higher than before the 2008 financial crisis. Only Greece hasn't recovered, but the situation is nevertheless better than it was 6 years ago. In 2012 unemployment (https://tradingeconomics.com/greece/unemployment-rate) was still rising, but it started decreasing from 2014 and is now lower than in 2012. GDP per capita (https://tradingeconomics.com/greece/gdp-per-capita) kept decreasing until 2013, but has continually increased (if slowly) since then.

So the economic situation can't explain why all southern Europeans (except the Maltese) are now considerably unhappier than in 2012, while other Europeans become happier during the same period, even Eastern European countries with stagnating GDP per capita and relatively lots of refugees (much more than Portugal or Spain per capita) like Hungary, Serbia or Bulgaria.

The gloom is Latin countries is caused by something else. The situation is similar in France, which remains the most pessimistic country in the world despite having a solid economy, and one of the lowest gap between the rich and the poor in the world after Scandinavia. The French (and French-speaking Belgians) and other "Latins" are champions of complaining about all and nothing. So I do think that there is an inherent national tendency to pessimism among Romance-language speakers. It may be more of a cultural thing than a genetic predisposition (unlike Nordic happiness, which is undoubtedly the result of 11,000 years of natural selection).

Maciamo
27-03-18, 10:23
Going back to the World Happiness Report 2018, what really stands out the most to me and is perhaps most striking and relevant is how some Latin American countries perform extremely well above their real weight if you consider their main ancestry (Southern European, African and Native American with varying proportions from country to country - and Southern Europe and Africa aren't in general very well positioned in the ranking), their actual levels of social and economic development, and especially their public and private levels of safety (which I'd assumed were very decisive to one's general feelings of happiness in life).

Brazil for example is ranked 75th in the Human Development Index (HDI) and is usually between ~70-80 in almost all relevant social and economic data. But it's still ranked as the 28th happiest country in the world. Mexico performs even better. They aren't exceptions. Most Latin American countries, with few exceptions like unfortunately present-day Venezuela (abnormal temporary conditions, not their usual conditions), perform above what we would expect from them if their social-economic development/happiness factor was similar to that of Southeast Asia, East Asia or Middle East. In the emerging, non-developed world, Latin America is pretty much peerless in terms of overall levels of happiness.

To explain that, the report puts a great emphasis on the particularities of family bonds and formation of social links (friends, workmates, etc.) among Latin Americans, and they seem to believe that those stronger, more intimate/affectionate and closer-knit relations are the "key" to explain the surprisingly high happiness in countries that are not only underdeveloped, but in several cases (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico) very violent and unsafe, in some cases even going through big economic crisis right now (that usually pulls down the level of happiness, and in fact they also did this time, as you can clearly see in the results that Brazil had a big dip in the happiness score after 2014, the start of its present crisis).

Are those patterns of social interaction really that unique (on a worldwide scale) in Latin America? Being Latin American myself, that is just social "life as usual" for me, so I'd be very curious to learn if there is really something very unusual - and, apparently, benefitial - in the way that people in Latin America form relations not only within the family, but also in their work, school, any collective environment.

That's a very pertinent observation. It might be more useful to see whether a country performs higher or lower in happiness than its ranking for socio-economic indicators such as the Human Development Index. Latin American countries indeed perform unusually well, and that is all the truer for Central American countries like:

- Costa Rica : 13th for happiness vs 66th for HDI (+53)
- Mexico : 24th for happiness vs 77th for HDI (+53)
- Panama : 27th for happiness vs 60th for HDI (+33)
- Guatemala : 30th for happiness vs 125th for HDI (+95)
- El Salvador : 40th for happiness vs 117th for HDI (+67)
- Nicaragua : 41th for happiness vs 124th for HDI (+83)
- Belize : 49th for happiness vs 103th for HDI (+54)

In terms of demographics, Costa Rica is mostly Mestizos. Panama only has 12% of Amerindians and 58% of Mestizos. The remaining 30% of Whites, Blacks or Mulattos. Mexico is 17% White, 17% Mestizos and 66% Amerindians. The other countries predominantly have an Amerindian and Mestizo population.

Let's see how Latin American countries with predominantly European populations rank.

- Argentina: 29th for happiness vs 45 for HDI (+16)
- Uruguay: 31th for happiness vs 54 for HDI (+23)
- Chile: 25th for happiness vs 38 for HDI (+13)

They are also happier than their HDI would presuppose, but the gap is much smaller.

That makes me wonder if Native Americans are innately more happy, or whether other factors come into play, such as the climate. Central America is indeed sunnier and warmer than Argentina. Let's compare with other South American countries with high Amerindian populations. Paraguay, Ecuador and Bolivia have mostly Amerindian or Mestizo populations, with respectively 0%, 6% and 5% of Whites. Peru is more mixed 45% of Amerindians, 37% of Mestizos, 15% of Whites and 3% of East Asians or Africans.

- Ecuador : 48th for happiness vs 89 for HDI (+41)
- Paraguay : 64th for happiness vs 110 for HDI (+46)
- Bolivia : 62th for happiness vs 118 for HDI (+56)
- Peru : 65th for happiness vs 87 for HDI (+22)

Once again, a higher percentage of Amerindian correlate with a higher relative happiness.

As a control, let's see of Central American countries with mostly African population are as happy or not

- Trinidad & Tobago : 38th for happiness vs 65 for HDI (+28)
- Jamaica : 56th for happiness vs 94 for HDI (+38)
- Dominican Republic : 83th for happiness vs 96 for HDI (+13)
- Haiti : 148th for happiness vs 163 for HDI (+15)

They perform well too, but not as well as Amerindian countries. The gaps between happiness and HDI are comparable to those observed in Argentina, Uruguay or Chile, except for Jamaica.

What is interesting is that all Amerindians descend from Paleolithic Siberians, and rather northerly Siberians as they were the people inhabiting the Bering region. So could it be that these Paleo-Beringians also developed some sort of natural resilience and optimism that allowed them to live in extremely cold and dark regions for thousands of years? Is this why all Amerindians now appear to be much happier than they should be for their socio-economic conditions? That is worth investigating.

Maciamo
27-03-18, 10:52
Frankly, I think a lot of it is down to the fact that Mediterranean people feel no sense of shame in admitting they're unhappy, gloomy, depressed, worried, anxious, you name it, and they're also not shy about criticizing their own country, people, you name it, whereas northerners, including Americans of northern extraction just, to be blunt, lie about it in my experience.

Lying about one's feeling and trying to appear more joyful or positive than you really are is typical of North Americans (and Australians), not northern Europeans. If there is one thing you shouldn't do is assume that Amercians are like the Brits or North Europeans. In many respects, Europeans are closer culturally to one another than any country (even the UK) is with the USA. I even wrote a (very popular) article (https://www.eupedia.com/europe/cultural_differences_europe_usa.shtml) about it.

In fact, British people are known for be whiners who love to complain about everything from the weather to the trains being late or government not doing a good job. German speakers are known for their blunt honesty more than any other group on Earth. Scandinavians also privilege blunt honesty. Overall Europeans are all quite blunt by international standards, compared to North and South Americans, Oceanians, East Asians, South Asians and Africans.

Within Europe, I'd say that Spanish people are the least frank about their feelings. They are all like "We should definitely go to dinner some time!" or "Why don't we play tennis together next week", then you never hear back from them. It's not just based on my experience. In Brussels, which is a microcosm of all EU countries, it's well know that Spaniards are like that. If a German or a Swede tells you we should have dinner next week, you'd better take your schedule and look for a date and time, because they mean it.


As for family and friendship bonds, I wouldn't know how to compare the ones in Italy to the ones in Latin America, having never lived there, but the bonds are very strong in Italy, even today from my relatives and all the people I know, although I see some younger Italians being taught to be ashamed of them by foreign media and visitors.

It is true that South Europeans have strong family bonds than Northern Europeans. The Brits may have the weakest of all family bonds, and children are usually expected to leave the parental home between 16 and 18 years old. The Brits and Dutch also have the highest levels of individualism in Europe. One way it is expressed is by the "gap year' tradition, whereby university-age young people travel 6 months to 1 year (or even 2 years in some cases) around the world as backpackers, as a way to fend on their own, as a kind of rite into adulthood. I have done it too owing to strong British influence, but it is otherwise exceedingly rare in Belgium. In fact, in one year of travelling I have never met another Belgian doing it, while I met hundreds of Dutch and Brits and some Scandinavians. Typical Belgians are actually much closer to South Europeans and children like to stay as long as they can with at their parents, and generally remain close even after they move out. Brits do the opposite, typically choosing a university at the other end of the country (or better abroad) to be as far from one's family as possible. British parents can't wait for their kids to leave the house to have some 'peace and quiet'. Very different cultures.

Dagne
27-03-18, 12:46
From my experience calling Finland the happiest country simply cannot be true. I agree that Finland is an outstanding country in terms how they organise their public services, education, transport, etc, however, when you make friends with Finns - I meant, they are very good people, very honest - but often so unhappy! after having too much to to drink they would open up their feelings and then you could not even know how to react... so miserable and unhappy they can be...
Also, in terms of defining how happy a nation is or is not, drinking habits could be a good indicator. I think peoples who drink too much (like Finns, for instance) are often deeply unhappy about their life.

Maciamo
27-03-18, 14:47
From my experience calling Finland the happiest country simply cannot be true. I agree that Finland is an outstanding country in terms how they organise their public services, education, transport, etc, however, when you make friends with Finns - I meant, they are very good people, very honest - but often so unhappy! after having too much to to drink they would open up their feelings and then you could not even know how to react... so miserable and unhappy they can be...
Also, in terms of defining how happy a nation is or is not, drinking habits could be a good indicator. I think peoples who drink too much (like Finns, for instance) are often deeply unhappy about their life.

If alcohol consumption per capita (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_alcohol_consumption_per_capit a) is any indication of how happy people are, then the Finns may not be that happy (16th most heavy drinkers worldwide). But I doubt that there is any meaningful correlation. For example, within OECD countries, the people who drink the least alcohol are the Mexicans, Italians, Icelanders, Norwegians and Swedes.The ranking for those who drink the most are the Czechs, Australians, Portuguese and Slovaks in 2015, but the Austrians, Estonians, Irish, and the French in 2011. So there is no consistency over the years. There is also no regional pattern. The French and Portuguese drink a lot, but Italians drink little. Australians drink a lot, but New Zealanders not so much.

Denmark is right in the middle. Why would the Danes drink considerably more than their Norwegians or Swedish neighbours, but still usually get a higher ranking for happiness?

If you look at the map of alcohol consumption per capita, it is especially Europeans that drink a lot, although I don't think that Europeans are more miserable than other people.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a9/Alcohol_consumption_per_capita_world_map.PNG

And by the way, Lithuanians are 3rd worldwide for alcohol consumption. Does that mean that Lithuanians are among the most miserable people on Earth (and more than the Finns)?

Ygorcs
27-03-18, 23:01
What is interesting is that all Amerindians descend from Paleolithic Siberians, and rather northerly Siberians as they were the people inhabiting the Bering region. So could it be that these Paleo-Beringians also developed some sort of natural resilience and optimism that allowed them to live in extremely cold and dark regions for thousands of years? Is this why all Amerindians now appear to be much happier than they should be for their socio-economic conditions? That is worth investigating.

That's really intriguing and worth investigating more, especially considering the ultimate origins of Amerindians, but unfortuntely I think the case of Brazil is exceptional enough to make us really need to find a less straightforward, more multifaceted explanation. That's because the happiness/HDI gap in Brazil is almost as wide as in heavily Amerindian Central American nations like Costa Rica and Mexico (28th in the Happiness Ranking vs. 79th in HDI - +51), but the country is mostly white or in general heavily African-shifted multiracial/mixed people: 47% white, 43% mixed, 8% black, 1% East Asian, less than 1% pure Amerindian.

The situation is also not very favorable to the "Amerindian innate happiness" if you look at the average autosomal DNA of Brazilians, which is a more useful mean of comparison since Brazilians are so mixed that they don't take their multiple ancestral roots too seriously (instead, they classify themselves by the way they look, regardless of ethnic/racial origins). Autosomally, Brazilians are 60-70% European/Asian, 20-25% African, and just 10-20% (mostly ~12-13%) Amerindian.

We'd then have to entertain the possibility that that relatively small Amerindian admixture, around 1/6, was enough to cause the spread of the Amerindian genes for higher levels of optimism and personal wellbeing in just 400-450 years (colonization in Brazil began effectively in 1530). That's totally possible, but it's a bit strange to me that the heavy European admixture, in most cases at or even surpassing 2/3 of the overall ancestry, wouldn't have severely diminished the benefits of Amerindian descent.

That observation of mine is also at least partially true for Costa Rica, the happiest Latin American country, where the specific proportions of their mestizaje were heavily shifted towards European prevalence, with an autosomal DNA showing them to be, on average, 61% European and 9% African, with "only" 30% of Amerindian ancestry, and in the northern part of Costa Rica European ancestry reaches a full 2/3.

Maciamo
28-03-18, 09:47
That's really intriguing and worth investigating more, especially considering the ultimate origins of Amerindians, but unfortuntely I think the case of Brazil is exceptional enough to make us really need to find a less straightforward, more multifaceted explanation. That's because the happiness/HDI gap in Brazil is almost as wide as in heavily Amerindian Central American nations like Costa Rica and Mexico (28th in the Happiness Ranking vs. 79th in HDI - +51), but the country is mostly white or in general heavily African-shifted multiracial/mixed people: 47% white, 43% mixed, 8% black, 1% East Asian, less than 1% pure Amerindian.

The situation is also not very favorable to the "Amerindian innate happiness" if you look at the average autosomal DNA of Brazilians, which is a more useful mean of comparison since Brazilians are so mixed that they don't take their multiple ancestral roots too seriously (instead, they classify themselves by the way they look, regardless of ethnic/racial origins). Autosomally, Brazilians are 60-70% European/Asian, 20-25% African, and just 10-20% (mostly ~12-13%) Amerindian.

We'd then have to entertain the possibility that that relatively small Amerindian admixture, around 1/6, was enough to cause the spread of the Amerindian genes for higher levels of optimism and personal wellbeing in just 400-450 years (colonization in Brazil began effectively in 1530). That's totally possible, but it's a bit strange to me that the heavy European admixture, in most cases at or even surpassing 2/3 of the overall ancestry, wouldn't have severely diminished the benefits of Amerindian descent.

That observation of mine is also at least partially true for Costa Rica, the happiest Latin American country, where the specific proportions of their mestizaje were heavily shifted towards European prevalence, with an autosomal DNA showing them to be, on average, 61% European and 9% African, with "only" 30% of Amerindian ancestry, and in the northern part of Costa Rica European ancestry reaches a full 2/3.

Brazil is a very complicated case because it is so huge and diverse. The ethnic make-up also varies a lot between regions and socio-economic groups, and the small sample of the population that they interviewed for the World Happiness Report may not be representative of the whole population. We also don't know the actual level of European, African and Amerindian admixture among Brazilians because, once again, only a tiny part of the population was DNA tested and therefore only represent one facet of Brazilian society, not the whole picture. If there are considerable regional variations in happiness levels in countries like France or Germany, which are small and homogeneous compared to Brazil, then regional variations within Brazil could potentially be huge.

Brazil is more like the USA. A study on happiness between US States (https://wallethub.com/edu/happiest-states/6959/) revealed very big regional differences. Minnesota ranked the highest on happiness (not surprising as it has the highest Scandinavian ancestry) with a score of 70.81, while West Virginia ranked last with a score of only 34.89 (less than half!). All Southeastern states (Bible Belt) were at the bottom of the ranking, although that may be for socio-economic reasons as well as old racial tensions in these former Confederate states.

I have compared the happiness ranking in the USA to the percentage of Scandinavian ancestry by state (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavian_Americans) and there is some degree of correlation. It's not just Minnesota (36% of Scandinavian ancestry), but also Utah (2nd for happiness, 15% Scandinavian), Nebraska (5th, 10%), South Dakota (7th, 21%), Iowa (8th, 11.5%), Wisconsin (9th, 13.5%)... Some states can be happy without much Scandinavian ancestry, and that's obviously places like Hawaii and California. The correlation works at the bottom too. Unhappy Southeastern states happen to be those with the lowest Scandinavian ancestry (0.5 to 1.5%).

To be more thorough we should include Dutch, German and even English ancestry, as all have significant Scandinavian ancestry of their own. Overall, Dutch and German ancestry is more common in northern Mid-West to West Coast states, which also happen to be the happiest. Bible Belt states have very little Germanic ancestry, as the first settlers to the region were essentially Irish, Scottish and French (+ Spanish for Florida) and they have also the highest percentage of African ancestry.

Dagne
29-03-18, 08:30
What I meant about drinking is the kind of bad, dark drinking, when people drink heavy alcohol and a lot, until they almost cannot walk. The overall numbers of alcohol consumption does not fully reflect that, I suppose. One can see that kind of dark drinking with Finns a lot - many people work during the week and seem to be ok, but when during the weekend or on vocation they go into heavy weekend drinking sessions, with the purpose to forget everything around you. This is what I associate with unhappiness. It is truly different with Southern Europeans who love good food and a glass or two of good wine with it.

And yes, I agree that Lithuanians are not among the happiest nations. One of the reasons (or consequences?) for that is this heavy "dark" drinking, especially in country side and especially among men. Besides, suicide rate is also very high, but also among men, which seem to be the most vulnerable part of the society. Historically, during the IIWW and afterwards during long years of partisan war and deportations to Siberian gulags, about 1/3 of the population underwent negative selection - those who were active, bright and took any positions in society were exterminated or had to emigrate - so there is no wonder that the nation of what it is now is difficult to fully recover. I don't know the reasons why Finns drink so much, a pity that Finnish people themselves do not comment about it - if they think they are the happiest nation in the world.

Zvrk9
01-04-18, 18:02
Lying about one's feeling and trying to appear more joyful or positive than you really are is typical of North Americans (and Australians), not northern Europeans. If there is one thing you shouldn't do is assume that Amercians are like the Brits or North Europeans. In many respects, Europeans are closer culturally to one another than any country (even the UK) is with the USA. I even wrote a (very popular) article (https://www.eupedia.com/europe/cultural_differences_europe_usa.shtml) about it.

In fact, British people are known for be whiners who love to complain about everything from the weather to the trains being late or government not doing a good job. German speakers are known for their blunt honesty more than any other group on Earth. Scandinavians also privilege blunt honesty. Overall Europeans are all quite blunt by international standards, compared to North and South Americans, Oceanians, East Asians, South Asians and Africans.

Within Europe, I'd say that Spanish people are the least frank about their feelings. They are all like "We should definitely go to dinner some time!" or "Why don't we play tennis together next week", then you never hear back from them. It's not just based on my experience. In Brussels, which is a microcosm of all EU countries, it's well know that Spaniards are like that. If a German or a Swede tells you we should have dinner next week, you'd better take your schedule and look for a date and time, because they mean it.

So much generalization of people and countries here. Are you Maciamo sure that you are not talking about McDonalds America or TV America. What is up with you Angela and feelings in some of your posts? Who are the Mediterranean people? I work and know a lot of Americans of "northern extraction", and I have some of that in me too. But I work and live with other "extractions" too, in this 325M country. I do not see any established patterns in lying about the feelings. Would you reconsider the use of word lying? I take offense to your statements, especially considering the roles you play in this forum.

How is that for my American expression of feelings?

Maciamo
01-04-18, 19:03
So much generalization of people and countries here. Are you Maciamo sure that you are not talking about McDonalds America or TV America. What is up with you Angela and feelings in some of your posts? Who are the Mediterranean people? I work and know a lot of Americans of "northern extraction", and I have some of that in me too. But I work and live with other "extractions" too, in this 325M country. I do not see any established patterns in lying about the feelings. Would you reconsider the use of word lying? I take offense to your statements, especially considering the roles you play in this forum.

How is that for my American expression of feelings?

Ok, let me rephrase this. There is a cultural tendency for Americans, and New World people in general (Americas, Australia) to be more open, friendly and hypocritical toward strangers, compared to the more reserved and blunt Europeans. I am not the one saying it. That phenomenon was observed by many cultural psychologists. The likely reason is that societies in the New World were built on immigration and people are generally more mobile and very likely to meet people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. In such a diverse environment it is helpful to be open and sociable to create new connections, as immigrants had to start a new life from nothing and fit with a wide range of different people. But it is also a good idea to keep your beliefs and convictions to yourself to avoid shocking or hurting other people's sensitivities, as it's harder to know what people think and feel in a multicultural environment than in a homogeneous rural community in Europe.

I thought that was common knowledge to most people. That's why I didn't even mention it in my article about cultural differences between Europeans and Americans. That is one of the most defining characteristics of New World people as opposed to Europeans. But I have been studying cultural psychology since my teens (long before genetics), and I realise now that it may not be obvious to people who haven't travelled a lot or don't instinctively feel the urge to analyse the differences between cultural groups as I do.

Zvrk9
02-04-18, 21:28
It sounds much better Maciamo, but I do not agree with your comment about Americans being hypocritical towards strangers. I do not care which psychologist said that. My experience of living and working here as a stranger and as an American is very different from what you are stating.

It goes without saying that not everyone is generous or sincere anywhere. Every society has its King Leopold III or that some other distinguished American leader (I am hypocritically smiling now).

Zvrk9
02-04-18, 21:35
I am sure you know the story of WWI in Belgium. Imperial Germany was starving your countrymen in the period of 1914 to 1918. There was ocean blockade by Kaiser’s army which took all the food from Belgian people. British tried to help but in the end, most of the help arrived from the other side of the ocean. Some Americans died at sea delivering 5.7M tons of food for all country for four years.

“Belgium floor sucks” and “Food Ship” posters, used to raise the funds and pay for the food, are still on the display at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum in the USA. In Belgium, King Albert's silver medal was created to commemorate that American generosity toward strangers.

9957 9958

Ygorcs
04-04-18, 07:22
I think you're misunderstanding what that observation really means. It doesn't mean people are evil or fake, but that their social customs that dictate what is polite or not, kind or not, determine that they should sometimes lie about their feelings or hide their opinions. Being hypocritical toward strangers in this sense is not necessarily a problem, I actually pretty much support this "New World" way of dealing with other people very much, and there is no problem for me in not being recognized as a blunt person who's not afraid do disturb, shock or bother others. We just don't tell our minds as often and bluntly as other peoples, and that's fine, we're taught to know when, where and if we should tell everything we think. Brazilians do the same all the time, American peoples as a whole are, yes, whether we/you like it or not, very famed for this well-meaning habit of not telling everything we think and expressing everything we feel in order to avoid conflicts or to avoid unnecessary disagreements. Europeans instead aren't as a whole that afraid of expressing themselves and of being nice to others only if and when they really feel like (not because that's the polite thing to do), they weren't culturally taught to save face by adjusting their behavior to not annoy other people, instead they value their self-expression, self-esteem and indivituality above even things like social peace, good relations with neighbors and mates and their social face, i.e. their reputation as agreeable people to others. This is not a question of being wrong or right, good or evil. It's just a cultural difference related to the prevalence of positive OR negative face in a given culture. Americans and Brazilians value the feeling of being recognized by others as someone who doesn't cause trouble and isn't always looking for an argument, whereas Europeans value the feeling of having privacy and individual space strictly respected and knowing exactly what they and others think in a direct blunt way, regardless of whether that will be pleasant or not, conducive to good social interactions or not.

Maciamo
04-04-18, 08:41
It sounds much better Maciamo, but I do not agree with your comment about Americans being hypocritical towards strangers. I do not care which psychologist said that. My experience of living and working here as a stranger and as an American is very different from what you are stating.

I agree with Ygorcs, who explained it very well. I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by hypocritical. I mean it in a neutral, factual, non-judgemental way (as most of the things I write).

To give you a concrete example, I was raised in a culture in which telling a 'white lie' to spare people's feelings was considered almost as bad as perjury in court. That may be a bit extreme and I learned over time (and by living abroad, especially the UK, Australia and Japan) that white lies are quite acceptable to avoid pointless confrontations. That being said, French and German speakers are known for being very outspoken and blunt and for telling what they things to anyone (from complete strangers to loved ones) as honestly as they can. Some people are more tactful than others, and, depending on their personality, some will even refrain from saying anything if they think it will only lead to confrontation or bad feelings. But the majority of people do believe in the adage that 'honesty is the best policy'. In the USA when people behave like that the behaviour is considered quirky enough to be made into a popular TV series like The Big Bang Theory, with Sheldon's character (well, Sheldon often goes beyond what is socially acceptable even for French and German speakers because he can't recognise people's emotions and and completely lacks tact, but otherwise you get the idea).

When I was an exchange student in Australia I apparently shocked people a lot with my outspokenness and couldn't understand why everyone was so oversensitive . Now I have spent so much time with native English and Japanese speakers that I am just as confortable with both types of communication styles - although ultimately it depends what language I am speaking (or thinking in). Very often behaviour is conditioned by past experiences, but the brain tends to separate those experiences by language, as if each language had its own personality and life experience.

Zvrk9
05-04-18, 19:06
Good explanations and comments from both of you. Thank you.
Perhaps I was too focused on a few negative words like "lying" and "hypocritical".

Rizla
14-04-18, 18:15
I read The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country, and after analysing every aspect of Danish lifestyle, the author had to come to the conclusion that Danes are just naturally happier because of their DNA. The explanation was that Nordic winter is so bleak and lacking in sunlight that a natural selection took place over the centuries and millennia, and only those who had a cheery disposition survived (others died of depression, depression-induced illnesses or committed suicide). That is very likely to be true and explain perfectly why Nordic countries rank the highest in happiness. Finland isn't that rich (25th worldwide in GDP per capita, around the same level as Belgium, France and the UK), nor is life expectancy exceptional (20th worldwide). The country is relatively boring, all flat, with long winters, hardly any history, and no cuisine to speak of. Yet the Finns are ranked as the happiest people on Earth. Like for Denmark there is no better explanation than genetics. Scandinavian people spread their genes with the Germanic migrations, and genes for positive attitude and happiness were passed along with them. That explains why in the happiest Western countries in the list, the ranking follows very closely the percentage of Germanic/Nordic ancestry, with Finland and Scandinavia on top, followed by the Netherlands, countries with high British ancestry (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, besides the UK), Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, then Ireland, France and the Czech Republic. In fact studies about happiness were conducted within Germany and France to see differences between regions. Of course many factors influence regional happiness inside a country, like the sunshine and the local economic situation (East Germans cannot be expected to be as happy as West Germans). Yet, the study about Germany found that the happiest people were those of the northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, just under Denmark, followed by Hamburg - the two regions with the highest Germanic ancestry. The lowest were of course in East Germany. The happiness survey for French regions gave the Nord-Pas-de-Calais (Flanders-Artois, historically a part of Belgium until the late 17th century) as the happiest region of France. This is not a given considering that it is one of the bleakest regions (war fields of WWI), with little sunshine, and one of the worst regional GDP per capita in the country, and the highest unemployment rate anywhere in France. The economic situation is so bad that it has become the home base for Marine Le Pen's Nation Front Party. Yet the region is the happiest, and that surely has something to do with the fact that people have by far the highest Germanic ancestry within France (actually they can't be considered ethnically French, but annexed Low Countries people). Celtic and Roman genes did not undergo the same natural selection for natural optimism. French people were ranked as the most pessimistic in the world in a study published in late 2016, with 88% of the population thinking that their country was going in the wrong direction. Other Latins were also pessimistic, with Mexicans, Brazilians, Italians and Spaniards completing the bottom 5 in the 25 countries surveyed. Another survey by the World Economic Forum in 2015 confirmed the French as both the most pessimistic people (88%) and the least optimistic (3%). Within Europe the most optimistic were the four Nordic countries.The happiest Slavic-language country is unsurprisingly the Czech Republic, which has the highest Germanic ancestry, with levels of Germanic haplogroups similar to Austria and Switzerland.You make a good case for the theory, but I'm not buying it. Actually your hypothesis should be pretty easy to verify. Do people of germanic descent in Canada suffer less from depression than their african, middle eastern, asian or latin countrymen? I doubt it. And about the natural selection, there's nothing from keeping people from getting children before killing themselves from depression, so depressive people aren't naturally pruned from the genepool in northern countries. Actually, as hunter-gatherers people would already get their first children at puberty, and generally die before they were 30.Besides. Modern scandinavians have very little or no genetic ancestry from the SHG, who apparently were a mix of WHG and EHG. Have a look at "Ancient DNA Reveals Lack of Continuity between Neolithic Hunter-Gatherers and Contemporary Scandinavians" - Malmström et al, 2009. Modern scandinavians descend primarily from the trichterbecherkultur people (WHG/farmer mix) and the later yamnaya. So the genetic origin of the "germanic peoples" doesn't go as far back as the mesolithic. The last descendants of the SHG were probably the pitted ware culture who probably moved north and died out sometime ind the neolithic. Of cause, the yamnaya themselves were a mix of EHG, CHG and ANE. In reality, very fair skin, fair hair, as well as red hair, probably originate with the EHG, who also seems to be the people who lived the longest in the very far north. It seems most likely it is the EHG part of the yamnaya ancestry that gave the yamnaya fairer skin than any other people, at the time of their incursion into Europe. At least, that's what the studies I've read seem to indicate. My point is, if natural selection selects for a "happy-go-lucky" gene among people living at high altitudes, the EHG would have been the ones carrying that gene. And in that case, that gene would today be spread out across all of European population because of the yamnaya. The reason most often given for scandinavian countries scoring high in happiness, is that we are fairly small, rich, safe and egalitarian societies. We enjoy a very, very high degree of social security, while still being just as free as everybody else in the western world. The only downside being very high taxes, but with a good economy, we still have good salaries compared to the cost of living.We have extremely little corruption in our state and government, and we always had very high levels of trust in other people. Not very long ago, it wasn't uncommon for mothers to leave their children sleeping in their carriages outside the cafe's. That's changing now because of EU's open borders and the migrant crisis. Just last year some romanian gypsies stole an unattended babycarriage, that incidentally happened to contain a baby. The scandinavians are slowly loosing their innocence, as the reality of the real world moves in with the open borders and all.Anyway, I can use myself as an example of what it is about our societies that makes us scandinavians happy. I used to work as an electrician, but I always hated it. It was very physically taxing for me. I was always tired, and I always thought most people in the building business were morons. I just didn't like the people I would work with. So in the age of 37, I choose to take a new education as a lab technician. This was possible because in Denmark, education is for free everybody - no matter what - always. And you even get a fair amount of money from the state while you study, and you can borrow more at a low rate if it's not enough for you. Now, me changing career didn't benefit the society in anyway, actually, we really need electricians Denmark at the moment, so it's actually pretty bad I didn't want to work as one. But for me personally, it made my life much better, and it made me much more happy, because I now spend my days doing something I like.

Maciamo
14-04-18, 20:13
You make a good case for the theory, but I'm not buying it. Actually your hypothesis should be pretty easy to verify. Do people of germanic descent in Canada suffer less from depression than their african, middle eastern, asian or latin countrymen? I doubt it.

Thanks for your feedback. Have you checked my other posts about happiness levels in the USA? Minnesota, which has the highest percentage of Scandinavian ancestry, is also ranked as the happiest. I don't have data for Canada, but the correlation between increased happiness and Scandinavian ancestry holds for most US states, so there is no reason it should be different in Canada. I don't know of any study comparing ethnic groups in the US or Canada for depression.



Modern scandinavians have very little or no genetic ancestry from the SHG, who apparently were a mix of WHG and EHG. Have a look at "Ancient DNA Reveals Lack of Continuity between Neolithic Hunter-Gatherers and Contemporary Scandinavians" - Malmström et al, 2009. Modern scandinavians descend primarily from the trichterbecherkultur people (WHG/farmer mix) and the later yamnaya. So the genetic origin of the "germanic peoples" doesn't go as far back as the mesolithic. The last descendants of the SHG were probably the pitted ware culture who probably moved north and died out sometime ind the neolithic. Of cause, the yamnaya themselves were a mix of EHG, CHG and ANE. In reality, very fair skin, fair hair, as well as red hair, probably originate with the EHG, who also seems to be the people who lived the longest in the very far north. It seems most likely it is the EHG part of the yamnaya ancestry that gave the yamnaya fairer skin than any other people, at the time of their incursion into Europe. At least, that's what the studies I've read seem to indicate. My point is, if natural selection selects for a "happy-go-lucky" gene among people living at high altitudes, the EHG would have been the ones carrying that gene. And in that case, that gene would today be spread out across all of European population because of the yamnaya.

Modern Scandinavians nevertheless inherited the most SHG ancestry from any population. The way natural selection works is that beneficial genes are quickly passed on when two populations merge. Look at the gene for lactase persistence. Almost nobody had it in Scandinavia 5000 years ago, then Steppe people came in the Copper and Bronze Age, with maybe 10% of the people carrying that mutation. It got positively selected and nowadays 95% of Scandinavians have it. Same for red hair in Britain, Ireland and Norway. The mutation was found in a small percentage of R1b people who came during the Bell Beaker period 4200 years ago, and its frequency increased over time in parts of Europe that had the least sunlight all year round (i.e. the cloudiest). In Britain there is an west-east gradient in red that closely follows the number of hours of sunlight per year. Ditto in Scandinavia. Rainy Norway has much more red hair than sunny Sweden.


The reason most often given for scandinavian countries scoring high in happiness, is that we are fairly small, rich, safe and egalitarian societies. We enjoy a very, very high degree of social security, while still being just as free as everybody else in the western world. The only downside being very high taxes, but with a good economy, we still have good salaries compared to the cost of living.We have extremely little corruption in our state and government, and we always had very high levels of trust in other people.

The author of the book analysed that, but the argument doesn't hold. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are generally rich, safe and egalitarian societies with good social security, but never score as high for happiness. Japan is safer than Scandinavia, and is indeed surely the safest country in the world. It is very peaceful and egalitarian, has a good economy with hardly any employment, free education and a very good and cheap healthcare. The Japanese have the world's highest life expectancy, a good climate, excellent food, etc. Yet they rank very low for happiness.

The Japanese have trust levels that are so high that it makes them easy targets for pickpockets and scammers when they travel abroad. If you leave a wallet full of banknotes (say worth 5000€) on a restaurant table or in the street, you can be 99% sure that someone will bring it back to you or to the nearest police station (who will contact you) and you will get it back without a penny (or a yen) missing. It's not just theft that is almost unheard of. Japan has a homicide rate (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate) 3x lower than Denmark, and only beaten by rich city-states like Singapore or Monaco. So neither trust not safety impact happiness levels.

Scandinavian countries have the lowest corruption in the world, but I doubt that that factor alone justifies a much higher happiness. Anyway, as I explained above, even Americans of Scandinavian descent are happier, so it's clearly not related to the country or system, but to ancestry.

Then Scandinavia is not as rosy as you think. This article (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/27/scandinavian-miracle-brutal-truth-denmark-norway-sweden) explains that, for example the Danes have:

- The Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-22/denmark-s-record-private-debt-load-triggers-central-bank-warning.html).
- Denmark's schools lag behind even the UK's (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/dec/03/uk-students-education-oecd-pisa-report).
- According to the World Cancer Research Fund (http://www.wcrf.org/cancer_statistics/cancer_frequency.php), the Danes have the highest cancer rates on the planet.
- According to a report in Politiken, the proportion of people below the poverty line has doubled over the last decade. In fact, I checked the statistics and income inequality (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality) and Denmark doesn't ranks so well anymore. According to the World Bank, Denmark is the 18th most egalitarian country, behind countries like Ukraine, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, other Nordic countries and Belgium. Comparing the gap between the 10% richest and 10% poorest, Japan ranks first, while Denmark is 28th, behind the aforementioned but also Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, etc.


Anyway, I can use myself as an example of what it is about our societies that makes us scandinavians happy. I used to work as an electrician, but I always hated it. It was very physically taxing for me. I was always tired, and I always thought most people in the building business were morons. I just didn't like the people I would work with. So in the age of 37, I choose to take a new education as a lab technician. This was possible because in Denmark, education is for free everybody - no matter what - always. And you even get a fair amount of money from the state while you study, and you can borrow more at a low rate if it's not enough for you. Now, me changing career didn't benefit the society in anyway, actually, we really need electricians Denmark at the moment, so it's actually pretty bad I didn't want to work as one. But for me personally, it made my life much better, and it made me much more happy, because I now spend my days doing something I like.

Education is free (or very, very cheap) in most of Europe. Only the UK and Ireland have slightly more expensive universities, but they also happen to be the best and still cost peanuts compared to the USA.

As for social security, the Scandinavian system isn't nearly as generous as the Belgian or French one. You can't live on the dole, getting 1000 to 2000€ per month indefinitely for years (say 10 years) in Scandinavia, but it's possible and quite common in Belgium and France (hence the higher number of immigrants).

France is almost as egalitarian as Scandinavia and is better in many respects relating to quality of life (climate, historical heritage, cuisine, life expectancy, number of working hours per week, holidays, social security...). Yet French people, just like the Japanese, are less happy than they should, and indeed among the most pessimistic people in the world. That's I think the best proof that the best system can't make people happy if they are genetically not predisposed for happiness.

Rizla
15-04-18, 11:21
Thanks for your feedback. Have you checked my other posts about happiness levels in the USA? Minnesota, which has the highest percentage of Scandinavian ancestry, is also ranked as the happiest. I don't have data for Canada, but the correlation between increased happiness and Scandinavian ancestry holds for most US states, so there is no reason it should be different in Canada. I don't know of any study comparing ethnic groups in the US or Canada for depression.


Thank you too, it's an interesting topic :)

I’m sure you know that correlation does not mean causation. Comparing “happiness” and rates of depression between various ethnic groups in Canada or Alaska would be interesting, because it’s on the same longitude as Scandinavia. So it will have the same kind of dark winters and long summer days. Alternately, we would just have to look how happiness varies among different ethnic groups in Scandinavia. of cause only between people who grew up here. I once heard winter in Denmark described as “Hell” by newly arrived southeast Asians.

It could be an interesting study.



Modern Scandinavians nevertheless inherited the most SHG ancestry from any population.



No, I don't believe that is correct. People in the Baltics have way more SHG ancestry than scandinavians. They stayed hunter-gatherers until the Corded Ware people arrived. Just as scandinavians are a mix of TRB and yamnaya, baltic people are a mix of SHG and yamnaya. If I recall the paper correctly, that I mentioned in my former post, the authors found no genetic connection what so ever between SHG and modern Scandinavians. The TRB farmers almost completely replaced the hunter-gatherers, just as in many other parts of Europe. Okay, maybe just a little admixture took place, but nothing like in the baltic countries apparently.

The SHG themselves were a mix of EHG and WHG who met up in Scandinavia after the ice retreated.

Besides the paper I mention in my former post, it’s also from these papers I base my understanding: "Genomic Diversity and Admixture Differs for Stone-Age Scandinavian Foragers and Farmers", "The Genetic History of Northern Europe", “Extensive farming in Estonia started through a sex-biased migration from the Steppe” but particularly “The genetic prehistory of the Baltic Sea region” from Mitnik et al 2018. it's all papers I read this winter, so my memory might be lacking though.

I understand you point about the red hair cline and all that, I’m just not sure it translates to happiness. Red hair is different. It gives you light skin, so people with that mutation will easier get skin cancer and die, if they live in the south. There’s nothing preventing someone with the happy-go-lucky gene to travel south and stay there. Always being more positive and optimistic will always be an advantage, no matter where you live.

About lactase persistence. To my knowledge, why that mutation spread so fast and became fixated in the European population in the bronze age is unknown. It's a mystery that hasn’t been solved yet. Didn’t the farmers have the same propensity to develop lactase persistence? I think so, if I recall correctly. It would just fit so perfectly if it was the yamnaya who brought that gene here, that people can't stand it's not that simple.



The author of the book analysed that, but the argument doesn't hold. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are generally rich, safe and egalitarian societies with good social security, but never score as high for happiness.


Yes, but except for Luxembourg, all these countries have much larger populations than the scandinavian ones, and are all much less homogenous, except Japan, but they have other issues. And of cause, any of these factors alone doesn’t make anyone happy - it’s much more complex.



Japan is safer than Scandinavia, and is indeed surely the safest country in the world. It is very peaceful and egalitarian, has a good economy with hardly any employment, free education and a very good and cheap healthcare. The Japanese have the world's highest life expectancy, a good climate, excellent food, etc. Yet they rank very low for happiness.
The Japanese have trust levels that are so high that it makes them easy targets for pickpockets and scammers when they travel abroad. If you leave a wallet full of banknotes (say worth 5000€) on a restaurant table or in the street, you can be 99% sure that someone will bring it back to you or to the nearest police station (who will contact you) and you will get it back without a penny (or a yen) missing. It's not just theft that is almost unheard of. Japan has a homicide rate 3x lower than Denmark, and only beaten by rich city-states like Singapore or Monaco. So neither trust not safety impact happiness levels.


Yes, this is true. But it’s not just one factors that determines the happiness of people. The Japanese might have much higher trust levels than the danes, but in their case, I believe it is their culture that makes them unhappy - simply put. Harakiri and all. I’ve been there myself twice.

Trust and feelings of safety does impact happiness levels a lot, but it’s obviously not the only factor at play.



Scandinavian countries have the lowest corruption in the world, but I doubt that that factor alone justifies a much higher happiness. Anyway, as I explained above, even Americans of Scandinavian descent are happier, so it's clearly not related to the country or system, but to ancestry.



I think you’re wrong about that. I think exactly this, is one of the major factors at play. It works together with the trust and safety levels we already discussed.



Then Scandinavia is not as rosy as you think. This article explains that, for example the Danes have:

- The Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world.
- Denmark's schools lag behind even the UK's.
- According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the Danes have the highest cancer rates on the planet.
- According to a report in Politiken, the proportion of people below the poverty line has doubled over the last decade. In fact, I checked the statistics and income inequality and Denmark doesn't ranks so well anymore. According to the World Bank, Denmark is the 18th most egalitarian country, behind countries like Ukraine, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, other Nordic countries and Belgium. Comparing the gap between the 10% richest and 10% poorest, Japan ranks first, while Denmark is 28th, behind the aforementioned but also Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, etc.


Yes, this is all true. It used to be a lot better here, and in someways we are blind to the fact that the society we used to have is slowly deteriorating. I just think the danes haven’t realized yet, and that said, we aren’t number one the happiness list. I believe that in 10 or 20 years we will be just as unhappy as the latins - the EU is seeing to that.

It might very well be an illusory happiness you find here. Most danes think our health system is fabulous - it’s not. It’s much worse than what you find in many other western countries, we just aven’t realized yet. Same with our social security system - it used to be a lot better, but we are still proud of it, when we tell foreigners about it.

About cancer, Danish culture is very much against puritanism. We want to enjoy our smokes and our glass of redwine, and nobody can tell us differently. We are completely opposite the swedes in that sense. More cancer in this context actually means for a more happy culture. The people getting cancer aren’t happy of cause, that’s obvious.

Actually I do believe that Danish culture is a bit more happy-go-lucky than all of our neighbours. More frivolous and carefree. The swedes are very P.C and stuck up. The finns are very somber and strange. And the germans are a difficult people, with a lot of issues about everything. I went to Burning man, and everyone were just so amazing and positive - except the german of cause. He had to be snappy and have issues with people when he was drunk. Norwegians and danes are most alike of northern people, and the dutch too. They come off as very similar to the danes to me.

Back on topic, it’s just not one or two factors playing into how “happy” a people is.



Education is free (or very, very cheap) in most of Europe. Only the UK and Ireland have slightly more expensive universities, but they also happen to be the best and still cost peanuts compared to the USA.


Yes, but no other country in the word has the S.U system. If you go to Denmark, you will find we are over-educated. It’s not uncommon for people to have several unrelated “educations”. But of cause our system used to be a lot more generous, and like everything else about our society it’s deteriorating. Denmark is slowly becoming a minor province in the EU - and as you know, we’re not the happiest country in the world any more. Google your way to the english version of danish webpage on S.U. and you will see. Unfortunately I can't post links.



As for social security, the Scandinavian system isn't nearly as generous as the Belgian or French one. You can't live on the dole, getting 1000 to 2000€ per month indefinitely for years (say 10 years) in Scandinavia, but it's possible and quite common in Belgium and France (hence the higher number of immigrants).


Yes, of cause you can. But it’s getting limited more and more, in the sense that the state just won’t leave you alone. They will try to help you with whatever issues it is that keeps you from getting a job. Being left alone on the dole to rot, will rarely make anybody happy anyway. That's not social security.



France is almost as egalitarian as Scandinavia and is better in many respects relating to quality of life (climate, historical heritage, cuisine, life expectancy, number of working hours per week, holidays, social security...). Yet French people, just like the Japanese, are less happy than they should, and indeed among the most pessimistic people in the world. That's I think the best proof that the best system can't make people happy if they are genetically not predisposed for happiness.

But quality of life isn’t everything. It’s like saying people should automatically be happy if they are rich. If you don’t feel you or your country has any good future, then you can eat all the baguette's that you want, and still be unhappy (we have French cuisine too in Denmark, you know ;) )

I'm not sure it’s going that great in France to be honest. Not that I know a lot about it, but it’s the impression I got from the last election. Front National and all, a lot of people voted for Macron even though they don't like him, and eventhough he's just going to be more of what they've already had before.

I know that retirement age for instance, is much lower in France than in Denmark, were it is being raised all the time. But is that a good thing? Denmark is being run like a well-oiled company, while many southern European countries seems to be run in a completely dysfunctional manner. We are bolstering ourselves economically for the future. Countries like France should be doing the same, but every time the politicians try to do it, like changing the retirement age, people go on strike, not realising that it would probably actually make them happier, to know they would be passing on a brighter future for their kids, than going on an early retirement.

Anyway, I’m actually not totally dismissive of the happy-go-lucky gene hypothesis, but I want more than just correlation. I can’t say exactly what it is, that makes us Scandinavians appear more happy than southern Europeans. But I think it is easier to keep a small, homogenous and relatively isolated population happy. Low corruption, high levels of trust and feelings of safety, as well as all the other things we talked about, like democracy, egalitarity, freedom, social security etc. etc. that is the recipe. But it all needs to be topped off with the right kind of culture/attitude. Otherwise it's not enough. It's many things coming into play at the same time. And all that said, I'm sure scandinavia will plummet down in the happiness index in future - thanks to the EU.

Maciamo
17-04-18, 09:58
I’m sure you know that correlation does not mean causation. Comparing “happiness” and rates of depression between various ethnic groups in Canada or Alaska would be interesting, because it’s on the same longitude as Scandinavia. So it will have the same kind of dark winters and long summer days. Alternately, we would just have to look how happiness varies among different ethnic groups in Scandinavia. of cause only between people who grew up here. I once heard winter in Denmark described as “Hell” by newly arrived southeast Asians.

Alaska is about at the same latitude as Scandinavia, but over 90% of Canadians live in much more southerly latitudes. You can easily check it on Google Maps, but to give you an idea, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto are at the same latitude as the south of France, northern Italy or Croatia. The most northern major Canadian city is Edmonton, which is at the latitude of the Netherlands.



No, I don't believe that is correct. People in the Baltics have way more SHG ancestry than scandinavians. They stayed hunter-gatherers until the Corded Ware people arrived. Just as scandinavians are a mix of TRB and yamnaya, baltic people are a mix of SHG and yamnaya. If I recall the paper correctly, that I mentioned in my former post, the authors found no genetic connection what so ever between SHG and modern Scandinavians. The TRB farmers almost completely replaced the hunter-gatherers, just as in many other parts of Europe. Okay, maybe just a little admixture took place, but nothing like in the baltic countries apparently.

From what I know, Baltic people have considerably more WHG than Scandinavians. The Narva culture was essentially WHG, with Y-DNA I2a and mtDNA U5b. Even the Finns and Saami inherited that mtDNA U5b and V (similar to Iberians) from WHG, while Scandinavian have higher SHG and EHG.


I understand you point about the red hair cline and all that, I’m just not sure it translates to happiness.

It doesn't. I was just explaining that genes are under constant evolutionary pressure and their frequency can quickly vary due to environmental or lifestyle changes. My point was that if Scandinavians could increase their frequency of lactase persistence from 0% to 95% in 4000 years, a similar evolutionary pressure could easily have increased the frequency of a gene conferring resilience to depression or pessimism (not the same things) in the last 12,000 years. Whatever new wave of immigrants to Scandinavia would eventually have picked it up when the populations blended with one another. The last major arrival were the Indo-Europeans in the Bronze Age, and the previous Neolithic and Mesolithic inhabitants with whom they mixed did get the lactase persistence gene.


Yes, but except for Luxembourg, all these countries have much larger populations than the scandinavian ones, and are all much less homogenous, except Japan, but they have other issues. And of cause, any of these factors alone doesn’t make anyone happy - it’s much more complex.

I see that geography isn't your strong suit. Denmark, Finland and Norway have about 5.5 millions inhabitants each. Sweden has 9 millions. In comparison, Ireland has 4 million, New Zealand 4.6 million, Austria has 8.5 million. The Netherlands (16 million) and Australia (24 million) are a bit more population, but not that much (less than twice and 3 times that of Sweden). On the other hand, Luxembourg has only 0.5 million inhabitants, 10 times less than Denmark. Ireland is certainly as homogeneous as Denmark, if not more. They are almost purely Celtic (R1b-L21) and have very few immigrants compared to Scandinavia.


Yes, this is true. But it’s not just one factors that determines the happiness of people. The Japanese might have much higher trust levels than the danes, but in their case, I believe it is their culture that makes them unhappy - simply put. Harakiri and all. I’ve been there myself twice.

Harakiri and all? I see that you have a profound understanding of modern Japanese culture. :rolleyes2: What part of Japanese culture do you think makes them unhappy? The anime and video game culture or the obsession with cute things and good food? Or their liberated sex life maybe (wait, that's the same in Denmark).


Trust and feelings of safety does impact happiness levels a lot, but it’s obviously not the only factor at play.
...
I think you’re wrong about that. I think exactly this, is one of the major factors at play. It works together with the trust and safety levels we already discussed.


It seems to have no effect at all on Japanese happiness. For all measurable data in the study on happiness (GDP, life expectancy, etc.) Japan scored very high. They have one of the safest and most trusting society on Earth. And yet they are unhappy. So what makes Scandinavians happy and the Japanese unhappy? I can't see anything else than genetic differences. The proof is that all East Asians are unhappy, and that Scandinavian Americans are just as happy as Scandinavians in Scandinavia.



Yes, this is all true. It used to be a lot better here, and in someways we are blind to the fact that the society we used to have is slowly deteriorating. I just think the danes haven’t realized yet, and that said, we aren’t number one the happiness list. I believe that in 10 or 20 years we will be just as unhappy as the latins - the EU is seeing to that.

We will see, but if I am right about genetics being the cause of happiness, chances are low that Scandinavians will be as unhappy as southern Europeans. On the other hand Scandinavian countries are welcoming far too many poor Muslim immigrants/refugees, so it could destroy their present culture and lifestyle and make them unhappy. The EU isn't to blame for this. Just look at the projections (http://www.pewforum.org/2017/11/29/europes-growing-muslim-population/). If Muslim immigration goes unrestrained, 30% of the population of Sweden will be Muslim in 2050 and 16% in Denmark.



It might very well be an illusory happiness you find here. Most danes think our health system is fabulous - it’s not. It’s much worse than what you find in many other western countries, we just aven’t realized yet. Same with our social security system - it used to be a lot better, but we are still proud of it, when we tell foreigners about it.

A lot of happiness or unhappiness is illusory. That was my point with the French and all their negativity and pessimism. They live in one of the best societies and one of the most liveable countries on Earth and nevertheless are the world champions of complaining and striking.


Actually I do believe that Danish culture is a bit more happy-go-lucky than all of our neighbours. More frivolous and carefree. The swedes are very P.C and stuck up. The finns are very somber and strange. And the germans are a difficult people, with a lot of issues about everything. I went to Burning man, and everyone were just so amazing and positive - except the german of cause. He had to be snappy and have issues with people when he was drunk. Norwegians and danes are most alike of northern people, and the dutch too. They come off as very similar to the danes to me.

Those are the agreed upon stereotypes. I have had the same impression.



Yes, but no other country in the word has the S.U system. If you go to Denmark, you will find we are over-educated. It’s not uncommon for people to have several unrelated “educations”. But of cause our system used to be a lot more generous, and like everything else about our society it’s deteriorating. Denmark is slowly becoming a minor province in the EU - and as you know, we’re not the happiest country in the world any more. Google your way to the english version of danish webpage on S.U. and you will see. Unfortunately I can't post links.

I looked it up and the S.U system is just Denmark's system of grants for poorer students. Most developed countries have similar programs, although students do not always get paid to attend university (usually the grant just cover all the expenses). Be that as it may, you are mistaken to think that the Danes are over-educated. Looking at the percentage of the population that completed tertiary education (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tertiary_education_attainment ), Denmark ranks only 19th (36%) among developed countries, behind all other Nordic countries, but also behind Estonia, Lithuania and Russia, and behind Japan, South Korea, Israel, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium. I know that many Danes are proud of their country, but the danger of being too proud is that you get a too rosy view of things and loose touch with reality. Denmark has about the same percentage of university graduates as Spain and is in the bottom half of the EU.



Being left alone on the dole to rot, will rarely make anybody happy anyway. That's not social security.

I agree that being on the dole rarely make somebody happy. But why are you saying that the dole isn't social security? What is social security for you then?



But quality of life isn’t everything. It’s like saying people should automatically be happy if they are rich. If you don’t feel you or your country has any good future, then you can eat all the baguette's that you want, and still be unhappy (we have French cuisine too in Denmark, you know ;) )

Wealth is only one facet of quality of life. That's why I mentioned the long holidays, early retirement, good food, beautiful country, high life expectancy... If none of these matter to you, then what do you think make people happy? Whatever aspect of life we look at, Danes (or Scandinavians in general) are superseded by other countries. Yet Scandinavians are the happiest. What is the big secret then? I am telling you the genes for happiness are looking like a good answer now.


I'm not sure it’s going that great in France to be honest. Not that I know a lot about it, but it’s the impression I got from the last election. Front National and all, a lot of people voted for Macron even though they don't like him, and eventhough he's just going to be more of what they've already had before.

Macron is a great president, perhaps the best France has ever had. Many people love him. But as it is France, there will always be people who are dissatisfied and unhappy about anything and everything. The main reason people voted for the National Front was because of Muslim immigrants and refugees. The problem was exacerbated in most of Europe with the Syrian crisis. But if you think that Scandinavia is being spared (check again the link above), once again you are looking at the world through tinted glasses.



I know that retirement age for instance, is much lower in France than in Denmark, were it is being raised all the time. But is that a good thing? Denmark is being run like a well-oiled company, while many southern European countries seems to be run in a completely dysfunctional manner. We are bolstering ourselves economically for the future. Countries like France should be doing the same, but every time the politicians try to do it, like changing the retirement age, people go on strike, not realising that it would probably actually make them happier, to know they would be passing on a brighter future for their kids, than going on an early retirement.

Actually Macron is going to pass his reforms regardless of rail workers striking for months. It's far more challenging to be a head of state in France than in Denmark, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

Rizla
21-04-18, 10:14
First, let me say that I don’t think the idea of a genetic cause is impossible. Of cause it’s possible. I just find in more plausible that culture as well external factors, which there a lot of, come together to make Scandinavian countries come out number in the happiness index. Someone has to be number one, and comparing countries across cultures isn’t always completely meaningful in my opinion. I also think you underestimate the importance, of what low levels of corruption in a society, says about that society. How it raises a lot of parameters - like feelings of safety, trust etc

If you haven’t already, you should read “THE HAPPY DANES Exploring the reasons behind the high levels of happiness in Denmark”, by something with the stupid name of The Happiness Research Institute. It’s a pdf and you can find it on their website. I’d post the link if I could. In spite of the silly name, and that it looks like a commercial for Denmark, it’s a serious publication with lots of references for its claims. The guy who started the institute also wrote a book about danish culture.


Alaska is about at the same latitude as Scandinavia, but over 90% of Canadians live in much more southerly latitudes. You can easily check it on Google Maps, but to give you an idea, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto are at the same latitude as the south of France, northern Italy or Croatia. The most northern major Canadian city is Edmonton, which is at the latitude of the Netherlands.


Okay, then Canada doesn’t work. What about Alaska? Anyway, It doesn’t change my point, which was that the hypothesis should be pretty easy to test, if someone put their mind to it. You would just need to make a study of happiness, were you compare people who have the same background as well as culture, and all born and bred in Scandinavia, but with a different genetic background. Unfortunately, I don’t believe adoptee's would work, because I actually think that people were adopted as children, generally are more unhappy. And I recall something about them having more psychic problems than the general populace too.



From what I know, Baltic people have considerably more WHG than Scandinavians. The Narva culture was essentially WHG, with Y-DNA I2a and mtDNA U5b. Even the Finns and Saami inherited that mtDNA U5b and V (similar to Iberians) from WHG, while Scandinavian have higher SHG and EHG.


I laughed at myself afterwards, because obviously baltic HG’s could never be Scandinavian HG’s, they would be Baltic of cause :rolleyes2: Anyway, the Baltic HG’s were apparently mostly, of if not fully, WHG stock. But it doesn’t change the point I was making. There are people in Europe, like baltic people or people in northern Russia who have a way higher amount of their DNA inherited from HG’s, than Scandinavians do, and all those HG’s lived for just as long, at just as northerly altitudes. Some of these people of cause, have admixture from people from the uralics too. But they too, both the western and eastern uralic people also have ancestors who lived at these altitudes for just as long. And don’t people in the north of Scotland, for instance, also have the same amount of HG’s ancestry from HG’s that lived at those latitudes for just as long as the Scandinavian ones? Except they would originally have been of pure WHG stock, instead of mix of EHG and WHG.

As I said in my previous post, the SHG’s were a mix of WHG and EHG meeting up in Scandinavia. Two different studies I already mentioned have found this.
The EHG who’s genome is based on some Mesolithic skeletons from Karelia. These EHG’s would be much more likely candidates for such a optimism-gene, imo. Since they actually lived further north for a longer time - or so I personally believe. I believe very pale skin, red hair and blond hair originated with these people, who passed it on to the yamnaya. It’s just how it seem to me, at the moment with what we know so far. The SHG had I2 and and U5 haplogroups too, by the way, which isn’t surprising going by their autosomal DNA.

Of cause, all this doesn’t disprove the genetic hypothesis, not at all. It could be a fluke, a founder effect. But it makes it less likely to me.



It doesn't. I was just explaining that genes are under constant evolutionary pressure and their frequency can quickly vary due to environmental or lifestyle changes. My point was that if Scandinavians could increase their frequency of lactase persistence from 0% to 95% in 4000 years, a similar evolutionary pressure could easily have increased the frequency of a gene conferring resilience to depression or pessimism (not the same things) in the last 12,000 years. Whatever new wave of immigrants to Scandinavia would eventually have picked it up when the populations blended with one another. The last major arrival were the Indo-Europeans in the Bronze Age, and the previous Neolithic and Mesolithic inhabitants with whom they mixed did get the lactase persistence gene.


But you still haven’t explained why you think people who are either very pessimistic or have a tendency to get depressed wouldn’t get children and pass on their genes? I can see how very optimistic people would get more children, and also have more success in general, but I fail to see why that genetic trait would stay confined to the north, since it would be an advantage no matter where you lived, be it cold or warm in the winter.
Also I can’t really see it playing that big a role among hunter-gatherers because of their lifestyle. Hunter-gatherers are mostly focused on basic immediate needs. When you live in a way, were planning doesn’t go further than what you will eat for dinner, then optimism/pessimism doesn’t play that big a role. Do hunter-gatherers get depression, and just sit around all day doing nothing? I think a lot of modern “mental issues” developed together with civilisation. Anorexia is a good example of that.

About lactase persistence, I think it is a bad example, because it doesn’t just have high levels Scandinavia, but in all of northern Europe, as well Hungary, Ireland and the UK. It’s frequency in mainland Italy is about 50% from what I can gather, while Sardinians seem to only have 14%. From what I gather it’s presence is pretty significant in France too. Have a look at “A worldwide correlation of lactase persistence phenotype and genotypes”. They link to it from the Wikipedia page on LP.

As I understand it, our current understanding is that it wasn’t until the bronze age that LP was fixed in the European population, or maybe we should rather say the northern European population. Since then it’s spread quite a lot. And the optimism gene would have had much longer time to spread out across all of the European population, if it’s origin was in the mesolithic. Unless we assume that it actually has a much later origin like LP - which I’d personally be rather inclined to believe.

In the bronze age, we actually had a climate in Scandinavia similar to southern France, but enter the iron age, it became very wet and cold here. Could there have been a bottle neck around that time? Quick "selection of the fittest” because of famine and hard times. War. The romans to the south. In such a setting, optimism would have been a very important trait. I still find it unlikely, but sure possible.

I remember reading once, how many villages were abandoned going from the BA to the IA in southern Scandinavia, and how patterns of sacrifice changed. It’s clear that the focus in their myths changed. The myth of the sun chariot seemed very important to the BA Scandinavians, but when we get to the Viking age, it’s completely moved in the background in favour of wargods like Thor, Tyr and Odin.



I see that geography isn't your strong suit. Denmark, Finland and Norway have about 5.5 millions inhabitants each. Sweden has 9 millions. In comparison, Ireland has 4 million, New Zealand 4.6 million, Austria has 8.5 million. The Netherlands (16 million) and Australia (24 million) are a bit more population, but not that much (less than twice and 3 times that of Sweden). On the other hand, Luxembourg has only 0.5 million inhabitants, 10 times less than Denmark. Ireland is certainly as homogeneous as Denmark, if not more. They are almost purely Celtic (R1b-L21) and have very few immigrants compared to Scandinavia.


Ha ha. No, you’re right. Geography certainly doesn’t seem to be my strong suit. I’m not claiming size and homogeneity are the only factor making people happy, but I believe it is one of them. The reason is that it is easier, to keep a small country with a pretty homogeneous population happy, than a bigger and more diverse population.

It’s way easier to be Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Danish prime minister, than being Macron - at the moment.

Now you mention Ireland (which by the way also has close to 100% LP) I can see several differences between Ireland and Denmark. Ireland is a much more conservative and religious country. They also have the conflict going on in the northern for the last 100 years or so, festering like a wound. In Scandinavia we haven’t had any kind of violent conflict for ages, except for a relatively uneventful second world war. (Denmark is currently at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we don’t feel this at all)

Also Ireland was the poorest country in Europe until not that long ago, together with Portugal, and I seem to recall they were hit pretty bad by the economic crisis. But in all fairness, I don’t think Scandinavian countries are all that homogeneous any longer- But we used to be, and like everything else that I’m talking about in Denmark, it used to be better before - and maybe I’m talking about a Denmark that doesn’t exist anymore. But since most danes are pretty well off, maybe we just didn’t realise yet, how much everything is going down the drain.




Harakiri and all? I see that you have a profound understanding of modern Japanese culture. What part of Japanese culture do you think makes them unhappy? The anime and video game culture or the obsession with cute things and good food? Or their liberated sex life maybe (wait, that's the same in Denmark).
It seems to have no effect at all on Japanese happiness. For all measurable data in the study on happiness (GDP, life expectancy, etc.) Japan scored very high. They have one of the safest and most trusting society on Earth. And yet they are unhappy. So what makes Scandinavians happy and the Japanese unhappy? I can't see anything else than genetic differences. The proof is that all East Asians are unhappy, and that Scandinavian Americans are just as happy as Scandinavians in Scandinavia.


Lol, that hara-kiri comment was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, but I thought you would get what I meant.

How about insane work ethics, which cause a really bad balance between work life and leisure? People napping in the trains home from their 12 hour shifts? One week of holiday every year etc. Young people killing themselves from the pressure and expectations of the society and their parents? Or is that just happening in south Korea and China know? Or not at all?
I know that Japan is changing. Young japanese are becoming more “Western” in many ways. Going to techno raves, taking drugs, backpacking etc. etc. (when I say young, I mean up to 40) But until recently, I think japan was a much more conservative society than the Scandinavian ones, and in many ways, I’m sure it still is.

Also, of cause this is not culture, but the majority of the Japanese live in really big overpopulated cities. Not much tree’s or greenstuff in Tokyo, if I recal correctly, except for that big park in the center.
The house prices in the bigger cities in Denmark have gone up in recent years, and from personal experience, I can tell you that that is something making a lot of people more unhappy. As I recall my trip to Tokyo, it’s completely extreme compared to Europe in that regard. Maybe London is following suit?

Anyway, I’m not going to claim I’m an expert in asian culture, but it seems to me that it’s not really meaningful to compare europeans and asians because of the cultural differences. Some of those differences stem from Buddhism and Taoism etc. even though people aren’t particularly religious anymore. In Denmark we discuss a lot what influence Protestantism has had on our society for instance. It’s an ongoing debate obviously.




We will see, but if I am right about genetics being the cause of happiness, chances are low that Scandinavians will be as unhappy as southern Europeans. On the other hand Scandinavian countries are welcoming far too many poor Muslim immigrants/refugees, so it could destroy their present culture and lifestyle and make them unhappy. The EU isn't to blame for this. If Muslim immigration goes unrestrained, 30% of the population of Sweden will be Muslim in 2050 and 16% in Denmark.


Yes, yes, I know and I agree. I believe the middle projection to be the correct one though, at least for Denmark. But 5% more muslims in Denmark in 10 years is also too much.
I blame the EU because they made the Schengen agreement without having a proper plan about what to do about immigrants and refugees - and they still don’t. EU is a mess in my opinion. It might be because of selfish reasons, but I’d like to get our borders back, please.



A lot of happiness or unhappiness is illusory. That was my point with the French and all their negativity and pessimism. They live in one of the best societies and one of the most liveable countries on Earth and nevertheless are the world champions of complaining and striking.


Yes, it’s a good argument. There might be a genetic explanation, but it might also be culture that you are mistaking for genes. And “correlation doesn’t mean causation” is still a pretty basic scientific axiom. The correlation you see with Germanic people also fits with Lutheran Protestantism for instance, and Scandinavian culture.



I looked it up and the S.U system is just Denmark's system of grants for poorer students. Most developed countries have similar programs, although students do not always get paid to attend university (usually the grant just cover all the expenses).

No, not really. It’s unique in the world. Every Danish citizen above the age of 18, and not living at their parent’s place, are entitled to S.U. when they study - even the richest man in Denmark (and then very cheap loans from the state with that, if the S.U is not enough for you)

Actually, the S.U system is obviously getting more and more limited like everything else in our society. You can get it as long as you want, when you go to what is called “youth education”, which is basically everything not university. At the university it’s now limited to 6 years I think. So you can get the money until you’ve done your master thesis, and then there’s one year to spare, called the “fjumre år”, which basically means “the botch up year”. But I think they are talking about removing that.

Back in the 70ies and 80ies, we had this concept of “perpetual students”, people set their up lives so they could live for the S.U, and basically spent all their lives studying at the university, first taking a degree in biology, then psychiaty, then history etc. etc…..So, in the end of the 90ies they made a limit of 6 years at the university.

On the monetary side, S.U is about also just covering your rent and basic costs, like a poor students grant. Most students work on the side or take the cheap loan, which they then never pay back. Lol. But some people can get by on the S.U. I did for 1½ year because I was lucky and had a very cheap rent.

But yeah, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think the S.U system itself, is what is making danes happy - But it does help.



Be that as it may, you are mistaken to think that the Danes are over-educated. Looking at the .., Denmark ranks only 19th (36%) among developed countries, behind all other Nordic countries, but also behind Estonia, Lithuania and Russia, and behind Japan, South Korea, Israel, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium. I know that many Danes are proud of their country, but the danger of being too proud is that you get a too rosy view of things and loose touch with reality. Denmark has about the same percentage of university graduates as Spain and is in the bottom half of the EU.


Really? Fancy that. I totally agree with the last part. To be honest, I don’t think I see my own society with too rosy glasses, but I can understand if it comes off like that.



I agree that being on the dole rarely make somebody happy. But why are you saying that the dole isn't social security? What is social security for you then?


In Denmark we have this concept called “det sociale sikkerhedsnet” which translated means “the social security net”. The system is supposed to catch you if you fall. I realise all other countries in Europe, also has this in varying degrees and some countries are probably better at it today than we are. But it is a big thing here, when the society fail catching people it's a scandal. I remember back in the 90’ies, you’d never see crazy homeless people on streets here in Copenhagen, because they were all at the hospital getting help. But it’s not like that today, cut backs have put them out on the streets, were they now live together with all the romanian gypsies we now have squatting - thanks to the EU.

We also have the concept, that our society should work to break the “Negative social heritage”. The S.U system for instance, is a part of that. Funnily enough, Danish people aren’t very good at break out of their “Negative social heritage”, in contrast to south Koreans for instance. So maybe it’s just the idea of these social democrat concepts, that make the well-off danes believe everything is still rosy here?

Danish people are actually quite lazy and comfortable, in my subjective opinion, even though we always pride ourselves of our protestant work ethics. I don't think we don’t like to work too much or too hard. And maybe that is part of our success. We’ve had economic success, but without too much of an effort.



Wealth is only one facet of quality of life. That's why I mentioned the long holidays, early retirement, good food, beautiful country, high life expectancy... If none of these matter to you, then what do you think make people happy? Whatever aspect of life we look at, Danes (or Scandinavians in general) are superseded by other countries. Yet Scandinavians are the happiest. What is the big secret then? I am telling you the genes for happiness are looking like a good answer now.


I’m not saying these things don’t matter. I just think there’s culture too, as well other external factors like population size, homogeneity (like in northern Ireland or Germany), how conservative the society/culture is, degree of religiosity etc. etc. etc. I don’t think it’s just one simple answer. Actually, I’m sure that things like food and climate have minimal bearing on your happiness, because we can all get french food. And things like climate and nature, we take for granted if we grew up with it.



Macron is a great president, perhaps the best France has ever had. Many people love him. But as it is France, there will always be people who are dissatisfied and unhappy about anything and everything. The main reason people voted for the National Front was because of Muslim immigrants and refugees. The problem was exacerbated in most of Europe with the Syrian crisis. But if you think that Scandinavia is being spared (check again the link above), once again you are looking at the world through tinted glasses.


I was talking about the voting system they have in France. I recall that a lot of people voted for Macron in the second round, because they didn’t want to vote Marine Le Pen. So, they didn’t actively choose Macron, but rather voted against Le Pen.

I don’t know where you got the impression that I think Scandinavia is spared anything :smile: I actually think we are going down the drain at the moment. Which is why I vote for the Danish people’s party (Danish UKIP light. Our local populist party) They say NO to EU and NO to immigration.



Actually Macron is going to pass his reforms regardless of rail workers striking for months. It's far more challenging to be a head of state in France than in Denmark, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

Absolutely. As I said earlier, I think a part of our success is that we became well off, without actually working to much for it. Our success has been easy.

I must say I don’t have enough time, to keep up this discussion any longer (maybe I just write too long posts? Or maybe I’m just very stubborn and argumentative?) But I want to say, that while we might not agree on this topic, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all your articles on various haplogroups. And while some people might not agree on your interpretation of the aDNA data we have so far, I certainly mostly do.

Rizla
21-04-18, 10:48
Just to be clear, social security isn't being generous and just handing people money if they become unemployed. Social security is helping people getting a new job - one they'll be happy about. This was actually an afterthought to my main post, which apparently was too long, and is awaiting approval by a mod.

Dagne
24-04-18, 22:30
I think there is a world of difference among Japan and Denmark in terms of working culture - in Japan, there is a lot of hierarchy which make people feel obliged to their job/boss, while in Denmark individuals are much more free, creative and easily leave jobs for better ones. One can also compare holiday periods/weekly working time/benefits, attitudes to women in work, and how few women are in managerial positions in Japan. Somehow I don't think that Japanese type of hierarchical working culture helps people to feel happy, to follow their heart in finding a job that they love instead of silently sticking to what generally considered appropriate.

LeBrok
25-04-18, 02:37
I think there is a world of difference among Japan and Denmark in terms of working culture - in Japan, there is a lot of hierarchy which make people feel obliged to their job/boss, while in Denmark individuals are much more free, creative and easily leave jobs for better ones. One can also compare holiday periods/weekly working time/benefits, attitudes to women in work, and how few women are in managerial positions in Japan. Somehow I don't think that Japanese type of hierarchical working culture helps people to feel happy, to follow their heart in finding a job that they love instead of silently sticking to what generally considered appropriate.Japanese never ask for a raise, and leave work long after end of a working day.
Maybe, they just want to be liked and admired. ;)

Maciamo
25-04-18, 10:30
Japanese never ask for a raise, and leave work long after end of a working day.
Maybe, they just want to be liked and admired. ;)

You are right. They do want to be liked and admired. The Japanese are relatively insecure and anxious people who tend to be eager to please. Due to their collectivist mindset, they need constant validation and approval from the group in order to feel worthy about themselves. Perhaps it is this kind of culture that makes people unhappy, as all East Asian cultures are similar in that respect (despite stark differences in other respects) and all rank very poorly for happiness.

Maciamo
25-04-18, 10:53
I think there is a world of difference among Japan and Denmark in terms of working culture - in Japan, there is a lot of hierarchy which make people feel obliged to their job/boss, while in Denmark individuals are much more free, creative and easily leave jobs for better ones. One can also compare holiday periods/weekly working time/benefits, attitudes to women in work, and how few women are in managerial positions in Japan. Somehow I don't think that Japanese type of hierarchical working culture helps people to feel happy, to follow their heart in finding a job that they love instead of silently sticking to what generally considered appropriate.

Working culture may influence happiness. But that presupposes that all or most people surveyed are employees. There could be students, retired people, housewives, unemployed people, self-employed people, people in managerial positions, and so on. In fact, over half of the adult population aren't employees.

If you look at the employment rate by country (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_employment_rate), i.e. the percentage of the working population that is actually working (not the exact opposite of unemployment rate, as many people who aren't working aren't looking for a job, such as housewives and students), in countries like Spain, Italy, France or Belgium only 60% of the population between 15 and 64 works. Now if you add to that the self-employment rate (https://data.oecd.org/emp/self-employment-rate.htm), which averages 15.5% in the EU, that's already over half of the population that doesn't fit the model you describe. And that does not include retired people, who surely also were among the respondents to the happiness survey.

What you describe is basically what cultural psychologist Geert Hofstede calls Power Distance (http://www.clearlycultural.com/geert-hofstede-cultural-dimensions/power-distance-index/), i.e. the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations accept and expect that power is distributed unequally (such as having to defer to one's boss, instead of the more egalitarian Germanic approach in which everyone's opinion is respected). Power distance is especially high in East Asian countries (China, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia), but less so in Japan, which has an intermediary score (54) and is in fact closer to Scandinavia (31) than to China (80). So that doesn't explain it for Japan. France has one of the highest power distance scores in Europe (68), and Mediterranean countries score relatively high too (Spain is the lowest with 57), so in Europe at least there seem to be some degree of correlation between power distance and unhappiness. However Latin American countries score very high (81 to 95 in Central America) and yet people there are considerably happier than their development index would presuppose. So I think that the work culture only plays a small part in the variances between countries for happiness.

Dagne
25-04-18, 11:34
I think that in Japan people in general are much more fixed to play a certain role in their life, obliged to behave in some certain way, which is like some sort of self-censorship, and it does not always add happiness in their lives. For instance, there is definitely less opportunities for Japanese women compared to European. My both grandmothers had interesting creative careers, they could themselves decide how they wanted to express themselves, they travelled, and this goes deep into family tradition. So I think this hierarchical paternalistic culture in Japan extends much more that just working culture relationships. If a person is without good recommendations and social ties it is very difficult to enter narrow professional groups in arts, business, etc. It is limiting people, and making them less happy. Do you see what I mean? Japanese culture is very secure, but it also has a lot of limitations for personal development and private initiatives, cultivating alternative ways.

To my mind, when evaluating happiness, it would be important to weigh the following:
- ability to develop talent when having no social ties and family support;
- easiness of taking private initiative and sustaining oneself from creative careers;
- having society where individuals with different social standing and achievement are respected;

What is very good in Scandinavian societies is that that they made it possible for individuals to develop even if they don't have proper social ties and supports from family (sort of classless society standard) and also that individuals are respected no matter in what hierarchical position they stand, besides the society is open and accepts people who lead different ways of life.

Maciamo
25-04-18, 12:24
I think that in Japan people in general are much more fixed to play a certain role in their life, obliged to behave in some certain way, which is like some sort of self-censorship, and it does not always add happiness in their lives. For instance, there is definitely less opportunities for Japanese women compared to European. My both grandmothers had interesting creative careers, they could themselves decide how they wanted to express themselves, they travelled, and this goes deep into family tradition. So I think this hierarchical paternalistic culture in Japan extends much more that just working culture relationships. If a person is without good recommendations and social ties it is very difficult to enter narrow professional groups, in arts, business, etc. It is limiting people, and making them less happy. Do you see what I mean? Japanese culture is very secure, but it also has a lot of limitations for personal development and private initiatives, cultivating alternative ways.

I have lived nearly five years in Japan, but I have to disagree with your assertion that Japanese society is very hierarchical and paternalistic. It is true that gender roles are still well demarcated, more like until the 1950's in Europe. But the Japanese are quite egalitarian. They all see themselves as middle class (even when it is blatantly not true) and Japanese companies value dialogue and consensus between employees. The working culture is not as relaxed and informal as in Scandinavia, and can indeed be rigid and ceremonial, but nevertheless based on group harmony rather than deference to one's superiors. I would say that the closest equivalent in Europe in Germany.

Family traditions are not what they used to be either. Young Japanese people are pretty free to do whatever they want, whether that is travelling and studying abroad, choose their university degree and career, and marry whomever them want (even foreigners), with generally little say from the family. Of course some families are more traditional than others, but the general trend is toward a more Western style openness and freedom.

If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that is still stifling it is about expressing freely one's opinion (outside the closed circle of family and close friends). Their concept of honne and tatemae (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honne_and_tatemae) still run deep and that is mostly limiting for public debate, about such things as politics, immigration, the environment (and Fukushima disaster), and so on. The Japanese education system values consensus and harmony well over debate and critical thinking, so there is hardly any debate on any issue. France is the perfect antithesis of Japan in that regard. The French love so much debating and disagreeing about all and everything that it is hard to watch French TV without stumbling on one (or several) debates on the main channels. The Japanese are too polite to disagree or even voice any potentially objectionable opinion in public. The French actively seek a vigorous confrontation of ideas. But neither society is particularly happy, despite having everything, so that's probably not the answer to happiness either.


To my mind, when evaluating happiness, it would be important to weigh the following:
- ability to develop talent when having no social ties and family support;
- easiness of taking private initiative and sustaining oneself from creative careers;
- having society where individuals with different social standing and achievement are respected;

I think that Japanese society does a fairly good job for these too. They may be a bit too materialistic and value achievements through money like the Americans, but they are otherwise very accepting of everyone in society, as if all the Japanese were one big family (very much like the Scandinavians). That is why crime is so low and trust so high in Japan.

Maciamo
25-04-18, 13:23
Let's try and different approach and see why some people are more unhappy than they should.

In the case of the Japanese, I would say that it is because the social exigencies of Japanese society are so stressful. People are very polite, but not in the relaxed, informal way of the British. Japanese politeness is extremely ceremonial and requires to use special honorific and humble forms, especially when talking to customers, older people and, to some extent, superiors (not so much direct superiors we meet everyday in the office, but people higher up the scale). It's especially tiring when dealing with customers, be it face to face, by phone or by email. Even between (not very close) friends, colleagues, neighbours or other acquaintances, people are expected to use pre-made expressions of politeness all the time (eg o-jama shimasu when entering a house, meaning something like "I am disturbing you"). Actually these forms are even used within the family sometimes.

Japanese daily life is so full of these fixed expressions of politeness all the time that relationships feel very artificial and constrained. There is limited freedom of expressing oneself or just be who you are. You have to fit in the mould like everyone else all the time, and personally I found that that was one of the most annoying and stressful part of living in Japan. Even Japanese people who have lived abroad told me that they feel the same way when they return to Japan. I am not a very spontaneous person, but that is really taking all spontaneity out of daily conversations. Add to that the concept of tatemae that prevents people from expressing their opinions in public and instead just nod and agree with society's "official" opinion on everything, and it quickly feels like your mind is in a prison. That is one of the reasons why I left Japan. Too stressful. As a tourist, and especially as a foreigner who isn't expected to know Japanese ways, Japan is great as everybody is so polite and helpful. But I understand why the suicide rate is so high among the Japanese. There is a lot of social pressure all the time to conform and fit in the mould of Confucian etiquette. I started having gastrointestinal problems in my fourth year in Japan because of all the stress and anxiety caused by trying to behave too much like a Japanese (and with the added frustration of almost always being seen as a gaijin notwithstanding how well I spoke Japanese and followed the Japanese customs and etiquette).

Interestingly cancer rates in Japan are much lower than in Western countries, except for stomach cancer, which is much higher. Is that the stress, anxiety, frustration and repressed feelings?

Maciamo
25-04-18, 14:22
The reason why the French aren't as happy as they should has to do with their negativity and pessimistic attitude, they propensity to complain, their penchant for confrontation, and perhaps above everything else their sense of entitlement. The reason why strikes are so common in France is that people feel, since the French Revolution, that they have inalienable rights, including the (in)famous acquis sociaux (collective rights obtained by all employees in the country and enshrined in the labour code). Once such a right has been granted, it is almost impossible for the government to take it back, even if it means that the country will collapse because it can't afford to sustain such rights anymore.

That's why railway workers have recently promised to keep striking every few days for three months until Macron abandoned the idea of changing some of these rights. It doesn't seem to matter that the SNCF (State-owned French Railway) is crumbling under debts of €46.6bn (bigger than the national debt of Iceland or Croatia). Let's all go bankrupt together, but do not touch the acquis sociaux and special privileges of rail workers, who are now guaranteed a job for life and in some cases retirements in their 50's.

This is just one example of how the French think about their acquis sociaux. It is the same for every sector. That's why political analysts often claim that France is unreformable. And it all has to do with French bloodymindedness and pugnaciousness. This attitude is part of the French way of life. It pervades every aspect of society. That is why the French love TV debates that would be perceived as discourteous or even vicious by the polite Brits or Japanese.

In France words can be violent due to the lack of restrain on self-expression. Once again it could be that the French, being taught since childhood about the greatness of the human rights acquired during the glorious French Revolution, such as freedom of thought and freedom of speech, grow up thinking that they can say whatever they want whenever they want, and confuse 'right' with 'entitlement'. In fact, the word 'entitlement' does not exist in French. It translates as droit, which means 'right'. As a native French speaker myself, I think it is fair to say that most native French speakers, especially those who aren't fluent in another language that has this distinction of meaning like English, think that a right is an entitlement (in the sense of privileges or special treatment). That is why they get so angry whenever the government tries to pass reforms for the good of the country, and why rail workers prefer to see their company disappear than to lose their inalienable rights (an expression that is very often used in France).

They may not realise it, but that very sense of entitlement may just be why a lot of French people aren't as happy as they ought to be. If they considered themselves lucky to live in a society where people have so much freedom, so many rights and such a high quality of life compared even to other developed countries, the French would be much happier. It's a typical case of loss aversion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion) and endowment effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_effect) in psychology.

The loss aversion principle is that for most people it is better to not lose $5 than to find $5. The same goes with social rights, and even more so when people think (rightly or not) of these rights as inalienable.

The endowment effect is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them. For example, people will tend to pay more to retain something they own than to obtain something they do not own. What is happening in France is that people identify very strongly with their rights, instead of just seeing them as laws that fluctuate with circumstances. They feeling of endowment is why they cling so strongly to their rights and become crazy when politicians try to take them away from them. It's an identification problem. If someone explains to them that these rights are just temporary laws and not the Ten Commandments set in stone, perhaps they would be more flexible. Sometimes I feel like the religious dogmatism that was shattered by the French Revolution found its way in the concept of Human Rights, which was then translated into inalienable social rights. The very expression of acquis sociaux has the connotation in French that these social rights were "acquired once and for all".

Other Romance-language countries in Europe may have a similar attitude to the law, although probably not nearly as strong as the French do.

Dagne
26-04-18, 10:44
Let's try and different approach and see why some people are more unhappy than they should.

In the case of the Japanese, I would say that it is because the social exigencies of Japanese society are so stressful. People are very polite, but not in the relaxed, informal way of the British. Japanese politeness is extremely ceremonial and requires to use special honorific and humble forms, especially when talking to customers, older people and, to some extent, superiors (not so much direct superiors we meet everyday in the office, but people higher up the scale). It's especially tiring when dealing with customers, be it face to face, by phone or by email. Even between (not very close) friends, colleagues, neighbours or other acquaintances, people are expected to use pre-made expressions of politeness all the time (eg o-jama shimasu when entering a house, meaning something like "I am disturbing you"). Actually these forms are even used within the family sometimes.

Japanese daily life is so full of these fixed expressions of politeness all the time that relationships feel very artificial and constrained. There is limited freedom of expressing oneself or just be who you are. You have to fit in the mould like everyone else all the time, and personally I found that that was one of the most annoying and stressful part of living in Japan. Even Japanese people who have lived abroad told me that they feel the same way when they return to Japan. I am not a very spontaneous person, but that is really taking all spontaneity out of daily conversations. Add to that the concept of tatemae that prevents people from expressing their opinions in public and instead just nod and agree with society's "official" opinion on everything, and it quickly feels like your mind is in a prison. That is one of the reasons why I left Japan. Too stressful. As a tourist, and especially as a foreigner who isn't expected to know Japanese ways, Japan is great as everybody is so polite and helpful. But I understand why the suicide rate is so high among the Japanese. There is a lot of social pressure all the time to conform and fit in the mould of Confucian etiquette. I started having gastrointestinal problems in my fourth year in Japan because of all the stress and anxiety caused by trying to behave too much like a Japanese (and with the added frustration of almost always being seen as a gaijin notwithstanding how well I spoke Japanese and followed the Japanese customs and etiquette).

Interestingly cancer rates in Japan are much lower than in Western countries, except for stomach cancer, which is much higher. Is that the stress, anxiety, frustration and repressed feelings?

You explained it super well Maciamo! But as a foreigner I do admire Japan, its traditions and achievements a lot, and want to learn from them, too :)

Ygorcs
26-04-18, 23:26
If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that is still stifling it is about expressing freely one's opinion (outside the closed circle of family and close friends). Their concept of honne and tatemae (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honne_and_tatemae) still run deep and that is mostly limiting for public debate, about such things as politics, immigration, the environment (and Fukushima disaster), and so on. The Japanese education system values consensus and harmony well over debate and critical thinking, so there is hardly any debate on any issue. France is the perfect antithesis of Japan in that regard. The French love so much debating and disagreeing about all and everything that it is hard to watch French TV without stumbling on one (or several) debates on the main channels. The Japanese are too polite to disagree or even voice any potentially objectionable opinion in public. The French actively seek a vigorous confrontation of ideas. But neither society is particularly happy, despite having everything, so that's probably not the answer to happiness either.

Maybe that points out to something that I have heard many people speculating as one of the main sources of happiness: moderation and equilibrium in one's opinions, decisions and behavior. Too much of anything seems to have a long-term detrimental effect, at least on a collective basis. ;-)

Maciamo
27-04-18, 14:21
Maybe that points out to something that I have heard many people speculating as one of the main sources of happiness: moderation and equilibrium in one's opinions, decisions and behavior. Too much of anything seems to have a long-term detrimental effect, at least on a collective basis. ;-)

Yes, perhaps. But if moderation is the key to happiness, the English should be the happiest people on Earth!

Rizla
30-05-18, 06:46
Maciamo. I couldn't agree more on your last posts about both the japanese and the french.

Very funny, after having written my last post in this thread I went into a bookstore in the center of Copenhagen, and they had a table with like 10-15 different books on the topic of danish happiness. We have TV shows about it too and what not. It's like it's becoming a self-fulfiling profecy, lol.

Alexandra97
25-09-18, 19:59
Well, time to move to Finland haha

Maciamo
25-02-19, 20:50
I have read a post on Quora (https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-dark-side-of-Japanese-culture) that made me realise why the Japanese aren't as happy as they should for the level of socio-economic development, and despite being one of the healthiest and most peaceful nation on Earth.

This has to do with the Japanese concept of gaman (我慢) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaman_(term)), which Wikipedia describes as "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance", "patience", tolerance, or "self-denial". This form of stoicism pervades Japanese society. It is also linked to the expression ganbaru (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganbaru) (meaning "try hard", "do one's best", "tough it out", or "work with perseverance"), which the Japanese use all the time. This facet of Japanese culture is admirable and explains why Japan managed to recover so well after WWII and quickly became the world's 2nd economy. Unfortunately, on a personal level, living with gaman and having to "gambarate" (as I like to anglicise when speaking English with Japanese people) on a daily basis isn't the best way to achieve life satisfaction and happiness.

Add to this that Japanese people are very collectivist and constantly have to worry about what other people at school, at work or in society in general think of their every action. Japanese culture is all about preserving the group harmony, and this can only be achieved by keeping one's opinions to oneself. That is based on the Confucian concept of honne vs tatemae (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honne_and_tatemae) (true feelings vs public façade). Because of this, most Japanese won't share their true thoughts or opinions with anyone else than close family members or very close friends. That can be a very lonely world, devoid of individual freedom. Self-denial, be it in enduring one's problems without complaining, working hard for the benefit of the group, and avoid burdening others with one's "selfish" opinions are all great to build an efficient society, but terrible for personal fulfilment and happiness.

Angela
25-02-19, 21:33
I have read a post on Quora (https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-dark-side-of-Japanese-culture) that made me realise why the Japanese aren't as happy as they should for the level of socio-economic development, and despite being one of the healthiest and most peaceful nation on Earth.

This has to do with the Japanese concept of gaman (我慢) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaman_(term)), which Wikipedia describes as "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance", "patience", tolerance, or "self-denial". This form of stoicism pervades Japanese society. It is also linked to the expression ganbaru (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganbaru) (meaning "try hard", "do one's best", "tough it out", or "work with perseverance"), which the Japanese use all the time. This facet of Japanese culture is admirable and explains why Japan managed to recover so well after WWII and quickly became the world's 2nd economy. Unfortunately, on a personal level, living with gaman and having to "gambarate" (as I like to anglicise when speaking English with Japanese people) on a daily basis isn't the best way to achieve life satisfaction and happiness.

Add to this that Japanese people are very collectivist and constantly have to worry about what other people at school, at work or in society in general think of their every action. Japanese culture is all about preserving the group harmony, and this can only be achieved by keeping one's opinions to oneself. That is based on the Confucian concept of honne vs tatemae (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honne_and_tatemae) (true feelings vs public façade). Because of this, most Japanese won't share their true thoughts or opinions with anyone else than close family members or very close friends. That can be a very lonely world, devoid of individual freedom. Self-denial, be it in enduring one's problems without complaining, working hard for the benefit of the group, and avoid burdening others with one's "selfish" opinions are all great to build an efficient society, but terrible for personal fulfilment and happiness.

Those are all very good points, but I am being increasingly persuaded that there is also a genetic, heritable component to "happiness", or perhaps more accurately, "contentment".

See:
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/37723-Is-happiness-or-a-sense-of-well-being-genetically-based?highlight=happiness

So, no, moving to Denmark or Finland wouldn't help. :)

Then there's the question of whether culture forms personality, or the "personality" or "traits" form the culture.

Carlos
26-02-19, 02:22
The non happiness, not to say the unhappiness that is where you have to avoid falling is what makes us move forward and move forward. Happiness is dreams, hope, faith and reality as I heard a mature woman say in a bar (I do not frequent the bars, a coffee and outside) "This is a world of flies" I do not need to explain plus. To continue dreaming.