World: are you Happy?

Happiness is now the goal.  Which countries are the Happy ones?

The Bhutanese started it all.  Possibly spurred on by Bhutan's depressingly low GDP per capita rating, then King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas decided in 1972 to measure Gross National Happiness.  

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, picked up the challenge on taking power in 2010.  The Guardian reported last November, the government was poised to "start measuring people's psychological and environmental wellbeing, bidding to be among the first countries to officially monitor happiness.  Despite "nervousness" in Downing Street at the prospect of testing the national mood amid deep cuts and last week's riot in Westminster, the Office of National Statistics will shortly be asked to produce measures to implement David Cameron's long-stated ambition of gauging "general wellbeing"."  Canada and France were also interested in gauging their peoples' happiness.

Let's face it, it matters.  I recall a TV documentary some time ago featuring a middle-aged woman being taken to the spot where she played as a child.  There were unattractive houses there today, yet she described the place as having weeping willows and meadows when she was young:  it was idyllic then and drab today.  "Why does progress always mean that things get worse" she remarked dolefully.

Cameron wasn't the first Brit to be inspired by such aims, however.  In 2006 a University of Leicester Social Analytic Psychologist, Adrian White, mapped the globe using data from UNESCO, the WHO, the New Economics Foundation, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, the CIA, and the UN Human Development Report. Here's a selection from his findings, where I adopt a scale of:
6 to signify high levels of Happiness

down to

1 to denote high levels of Unhappiness 

of the inhabitants of certain countries:

Algeria 2
Australia 6
Bangladesh 3
Belgium 6
Bhutan 5
Brazil 4
Canada 6
Chile 4
China 4
Czech Republic 4
Costa Rica 6
Denmark 6
Ethiopia 1
Finland 6
France 4
Germany 5
Ghana 4
India 2
Indonesia 4
Italy 5
Ivory Coast 1
Japan 4
Kenya 3
Malaysia 6
Mexico 5
Morocco 3
Mozambique 2
Netherlands 6
New Zealand 6
Nigeria 3
Pakistan 1
Peru 3
Philippines 4
Poland 3
Russia 1
Saudi Arabia 5
South Africa 4
South Korea 3
Spain 5
Taiwan 4
Tanzania 2
Uganda 1
United Kingdom 5
United States 6
Zambia 2

The world has moved on considerably since this exercise by the University of Leicester.  We've experienced the credit crunch recession, housing crash, Arab Spring and numerous natural disasters, to name a few.  So, I've tried to omit certain countries where revolutions would have altered perceptions massively since 2006, like Egypt for example.   

Cameron was right to get a measuring programme off the ground in the UK.  But the lowish French figure could have been influenced by the banlieu neighbourhood riots of 2005.  Perhaps Canada just wants to make sure that Canadian citizens remain Happy. 

The University of Leicester listed the 20 happiest nations in the World as:

1 - Denmark
2 - Switzerland
3 - Austria
4 - Iceland
5 - The Bahamas
6 - Finland
7 - Sweden
8 - Bhutan
9 - Brunei
10 - Canada
11 - Ireland
12 - Luxembourg
13 - Costa Rica
14 - Malta
15 - The Netherlands
16 - Antigua and Barbuda
17 - Malaysia
18 - New Zealand
19 - Norway
20 - The Seychelles

They added that other notable rankings were:

23 - USA
35 - Germany
41 - UK
62 - France
82 - China
90 - Japan
125 - India
167 - Russia

And finally they listed the three least happy countries:

176 - Democratic Republic of the Congo
177 - Zimbabwe
178 - Burundi.

UOL's footnote informed "happiness is found to be most closely associated with health, followed by wealth and then education." 

On that basis, how do you rate your own degree of Happiness?

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