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Thread: World Happiness Report 2018

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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, 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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Promenade View Post
    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 or hotel staff, 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, this physical aptitude and that kind of AI, (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 or its recent British spin-off Humans.

    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 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.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 24-03-18 at 14:13.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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 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, 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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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 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, 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.

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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), 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) 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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), 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) 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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) 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) 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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) 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) 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/bior...03018.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

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    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.

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    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:







    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.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    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:







    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    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.

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    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 was still rising, but it started decreasing from 2014 and is now lower than in 2012. 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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    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 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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dagne View Post
    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 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.



    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)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ygorcs View Post
    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 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 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.

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    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.

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