Worldly Happiness

tue1aug2006—31w213d58%— 22h16m00s—0utc

The above is a map of world happiness — the redder, the happier — Adrian White, Analytic Social Psychologist, University of Leicester, made in a meta-study that aggregated the results of over a 100 independent studies and surveys on subjective wellbeing from around the world. The study itself isn’t yet available, but there’s an intereresting (though hideous) press release were you can quote your country’s rank (the US is #23, Denmark #1, Switzerland #2, Austria #3 ((cheers to Alexis!), and Mexico #51)).

As I said, the source itself isn’t yet available, but Eurekalert — a science news service of sorts — provides some quotes on White’s meta-study.

My favorite one — because it confirms my individualistic prejudices of course:

We were surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th. These are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity which other researchers have associated with well-being.

It was also interesting to find out that health was the most closely correlated variable to happiness (I would have expected wealth to have that place):

Further analysis showed that a nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51).

But there are several quotes that hint at the study’s agenda — and it sends a chill through my spine:

There is increasing political interest in using measures of happiness as a national indicator in conjunction with measures of wealth. A recent BBC survey found that 81% of the population think the Government should focus on making us happier rather than wealthier.

If government has proved itself so egregiously lousy and so disturbingly meddling when it started working under the banner of improving our welfare through last century, I can only shudder when imagining what a brand new world awaits us when it pursues “our” happiness.

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