Conducted by the University of Michigan, the survey included all developed countries and notable developing nations including rich and poor alike. Surprisingly there wasn’t a direct correlation between wealth of a nation and it’s ‘happiness’, with the United States ranking only 16th.
Denmark shared the top 10 with another Scandinavian country, Iceland, along with Canada, Puerto Rico and perhaps surprisingly, Colombia. Ireland (both Northern and the Republic), Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria also joined them. Mainland Britain, on the other hand, was only ranked 21st.
“I strongly suspect there is a strong correlation between peace and happiness,” said Ronald Inglehart, who is a political scientist at the University’s Institute for Social Research.
“There is also a correlation between democracy and peace. Democracies are less likely to fight each other than non-democracies.”
Not surprisingly, Zimbabwe – which is currently in the news for its deepening political meltdown, came 97th and last. It suffers hyper inflation of more than 1 million percent and has an average life expectancy of 34 and 37 for women and men respectively.
Other countries whose nationals can be considered really miserable include; Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, Albania, Ukraine, Georgia, Iraq, Bulgaria and Russia, among them some of the most despotically or disastrously-led countries in the world.
Respondents were asked two questions to gauge their happiness:
# Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, or not at all happy?
# All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?
“Ultimately, the most important determinant of happiness is the extent to which people have free choice in how to live their lives,” Inglehart adds.