Is happiness really all that? It depends on how you define it.
The business writers at 24/7 Wall St. have modified a new “Better Life” index, with its multiple measures including “life satisfaction,” and added their own economic and political measures. The result is a Top 10 happy countries list that doesn’t include the USA.
The new Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Better Life Index has 11 measures of quality of life including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance and life satisfaction.
The 24/7 folks made life satisfaction “the cornerstone because it is as good a proxy for ‘happiness’ as the survey provides.” Then the writers factored in “economic and socio-political realities” such as debt as a percentage of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and employment rate because, as they say, “Money alone doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure helps. ”
Given our current malaise about the economy, and our long-standing sense of rampant individualism, is it any surprise that an index that gives high scores for the cultural concept of a social safety net leaves the USA out of the top ranking?
Among the top findings, folks doing the happiness dance live in places where they…:
… Get loads of social services without having to work too hard. Having abundant natural resources, a thriving services sector and a fairly homogeneous population helps as well.
… support employment, education and make health care widely available.
… have a good balance of work and leisure time.