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Thread: World Happiness Report 2018

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    Post World Happiness Report 2018



    The new World Happiness Report 2018 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.
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronSide View Post
    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.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    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.

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    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 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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 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?
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    3 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    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 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.

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    The sharpest drop worldwide in the last 5 years was in Venezuela, which passed from 19th happiest to 102th!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    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.

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    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 !

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by LABERIA View Post
    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!

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    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.
    It is therefore worth while to search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent and moderate our persuasion. (John Locke)

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    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.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DuPidh View Post
    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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    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. Just take a look at the thread about new robots 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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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.

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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.
    We mused about this already:
    https://www.eupedia.com/forum/thread...low-in-economy

    https://www.eupedia.com/forum/thread...uce-everything

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

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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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    The new World Happiness Report 2018 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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuPidh View Post
    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.

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    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.

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