Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The happiest countries? I'm confused.

Having just done a post on March 2 on an article in the Economist reporting most happiness in poor and middle income countries (most Europeans less happy than rest of world), now appears a "World Happiness Report" (PDF here, Summary by lead author Helliwell here) prepared for a United Nations conference on happiness, that rates developed Northern European countries as having highest happiness. Compare the graphic below with the one in the March 2 post.  Helliwell: "the richest countries are a lot happier than the poorest."  The Economist: "the highest levels of self-reported happiness is not in rich countries."  I guess the way you ask the questions is rather crucial, and also sample size,  but at the moment I'm not patient enough to figure out what is going on.  Maybe a helpful reader will resolve all in a comment on this post.


  1. Hi Deric,

    I've seen these discrepancies before when I've looked at happiness data. It usually is a difference in the definition and measurement of happiness. If you ask people how happy they are the countries rank one way. If you define "objective" measures, such as access to education, healthcare etc, then the rankings are different.

  2. How come Italy has fallen out the radar?

  3. Anonymous10:44 AM

    In short, people don't know whether they are happy. ;)

  4. Anonymous7:59 AM

    Well, at first glance, 8 out of 10 are countries where "drinking" is prevalent, LOL

    Just sayin'.... :-)