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Old 12-13-2011, 08:30 PM
 
1,017 posts, read 1,192,705 times
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The World's Happiest (And Saddest) Countries - Yahoo! Travel

What is happiness? Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, wrote, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” John Lennon had a different take: “Happiness is a warm gun.”

Whatever happiness is to you, there’s some conditions under which it most readily blossoms. You need enough money to acquire a puppy or a gun, and enough free time to exalt in its warmth. You need the peace of mind that Big Brother isn’t about to come around the corner and take your gun (or puppy) away from you. And because fun things are even more fun when shared with others, you’ll be even happier if you have a family that encourages your passion, or at least a local chapter of the NRA or Kennel Club to hang out with.

A few years ago the directors of the Legatum Institute (part of billionaire Christopher Chandler‘s Dubai-based Legatum Group) were thinking about the wealth of nations. “We found ourselves asking two questions,” says spokesman Julian Knapp. “First, why have some nations — given a similar start — become more successful and wealthier than others? And having recognized that life is about more than simple material satisfaction, the second question: why are some nations happier and more satisfied than others?” Indeed why had Ghana and South Korean, having shared similar GDP’s in the 1950s, gone in such different directions, with Korea’s now $39,000 per capita and Ghana’s just $3,000.

After studying 40 years of data and outcomes, they settled on eight areas – the ingredients of prosperity: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital. Then they looked for reliable data from the likes of the Gallup polling organization that would let them rank countries on their performance in these areas. Add up the scores and you get the Legatum Prosperity Index.

In its recently released 2011 index, billed as an “inquiry into global wealth and well being,” Legatum ranks 110 countries on their overall level of prosperity. These countries comprise 93% of global population and 97% of GDP.

At No. 1 for the third year in a row: Norway. What’s it got that the rest of the world doesn’t? For one thing, a stunning per capita GDP of $54,000 a year. Norwegians have the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living: 95% say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives; an unparalleled 74% say other people can be trusted.

Cynics say Norway’s ranking is a fluke, that it’s a boring, godless (just 13% go to church), homogeneous place to live, with a massive welfare state bankrolled by high taxes. Without massive offshore reserves of oil and gas that it exports to the world through state-controlled Statoil, Norway’s GDP would be far smaller.

Natural resources help: Australia, which ranks third, is benefitting greatly from selling its coal, iron and natural gas to China. And yet some of the most resource-reliant nations, like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, are far down the list. There’s clearly more to it than oil and ore. Joining Norway and Australia in the top 10 are their neighbors Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand. Equally small and civilized Switzerland and the Netherlands are also up there. Rounding out the top 10 is the United States at 10th and Canada (sixth).
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:57 PM
 
1,865 posts, read 1,049,415 times
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I don't really want to get into a whole theological debate here, but I do think that the Norwegians' "godlessness" is one reason they are so happy. It's my view that with a lack of God (Allah, what have you) perhaps has allowed Norwegians to focus on other people. Just my two cents.

Here is my ranking (1=Happiest) of the seven countries that I know well (that I've spent significant time in):
1. India
2. USA
3. Argentina
4. Sweden
5. Mexico
6. Russia
7. Ukraine

Last edited by jeffpv; 12-13-2011 at 08:59 PM.. Reason: Added info for clarity
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:49 PM
 
Location: Miami / Florida / U.S.A.
684 posts, read 788,685 times
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Australians, canadians, Europeans....def...the happiest people.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:59 PM
 
Location: The Netherlands
2,914 posts, read 2,116,863 times
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Quote:
Cynics say Norway’s ranking is a fluke, that it’s a boring, godless (just 13% go to church), homogeneous place to live, with a massive welfare state bankrolled by high taxes. Without massive offshore reserves of oil and gas that it exports to the world through state-controlled Statoil, Norway’s GDP would be far smaller.
Not hard to guess who those "cynics" are

I don't understand why the author feels the need to include the perspective of "cynics" about Norway in this article, it's not relevant in any way. How can Norway's ranking be a fluke if it's #1 for the third year in a row? Who cares if it's a "godless" country (I actually see that as positive) and what difference does it make where their GDP comes from? Obviously the Norwegians are perfectly happy with their "massive welfare state bankrolled by high taxes" so I don't see what's wrong with that either.

Notice this little gem later in the article:

Quote:
"Yet although Europe holds 14 of the top 20 slots in the index, not all is peachy. (...) Expect worse results for Europe next year."
Maybe Europe will hold "only" 13 out of the top 20 slots next year
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:19 AM
 
86 posts, read 130,052 times
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NO(r)WAY?
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:53 AM
 
Location: Barcelona, Spain
281 posts, read 357,470 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacobwilliam77 View Post
At No. 1 for the third year in a row: Norway. What’s it got that the rest of the world doesn’t? For one thing, a stunning per capita GDP of $54,000 a year. Norwegians have the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living: 95% say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives; an unparalleled 74% say other people can be trusted.

Cynics say Norway’s ranking is a fluke, that it’s a boring, godless (just 13% go to church), homogeneous place to live, with a massive welfare state bankrolled by high taxes. Without massive offshore reserves of oil and gas that it exports to the world through state-controlled Statoil, Norway’s GDP would be far smaller.
I read a very interesting article on Norway recently and, while oil helps a great deal, there seems to be much more to the success of Norway as a country than the wealth derived from crude. They seem to have a very cohesive society where most people seem keenly aware of how important it is to go in the same direction as a country, so everybody ultimately benefits from it.
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:13 AM
 
Location: Kowaniec, Nowy Targ, Podhale. 666 m n.p.m.
371 posts, read 441,933 times
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What a joke... Singapore ranks 16th because the streets are the world's safest... I'm quite sure the streets of P'yongyang are safer than those of Singapore, and apparently civil rights and a proper democratic process (which is according to the report one of the reasons Oz, Kiwistan and the Scandinavians score so high) is not as important it as it might seem... Then again, I suppose if you interview people and one asks people their own views on issues, Eastasians in particular seem to not care much about freedom to speak one's mind or live a lifestyle which goes directly against either societal norms or government policies. To me, Singapore is the wealthy, luxurious version of North Korea, where the government allows one to travel around.

Then we have good old Poland, ranked 28th. Doesn't surprise me either, I had actually expected Poland to be ranked lower, and it's totally in line with the subjective nature of this survey...

For example;

"Poland is joint first in the Index for the overall quality of its democracy. Individual politicians face a high level of checks and balances in attempting to set policy. Furthermore, competition in the executive and legislative branches of government is very good, and there is good regulation of the executive branch."

That's all great, but if the majority of the people think the government is corrupt, kleptocratic, and on top of that, we only have 7% political participation (similar to Russia or Belarus) it's no wonder we rank 36th on governance...

Education and healthcare are also similar, we rank 24th and 30th on this, despite having one of Europe's best tertiary education systems and a fairly good healthcare system by international standards. Same goes for safety and security, we're ranked 25th, although our crime rates are one of Europe's lowest... Still, your average Pole thinks if you don't have 15 locks on your door and a huge fence around your yard with motion detectors everywhere, one's house would be visited every single night by burglars...
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:22 AM
 
60 posts, read 85,002 times
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So the Legatum Prosperity Index makes the same assumption as the HDI: That the quality of education is proportional to the tertiary enrollment rate. It's not taken into account that the quality of the tertiary education varies from country to country; and it isn't taken into account either that not every country's educational system is based on the goal to have as high a tertiary enrollment rate as possible, with lots of unemployed academics and tons of theoretically educated, but practically useless people (aka expert idiots).

Lots of countries have a so-called "dual educational system", with professional education (in a real company) starting at about the age of ~16, combined with 1 or 2 days per week in vocational school (not in the company, but a normal school), where they learn both specialized, technical knowledge and "normal" school stuff (like calculus, foreign languages).

So a part of the youths take that way, while others go the "more academic" way, from grammar school to university. This results in both highly skilled "workers" and fewer, but more skilled university students. So the normal "worker" recieves an education which is probably on par with the average tertiary education in other countries, while the universities are likely at a much higher level than in those other countries. That's why some of the countries with the dual system have highly restrictive admission conditions to their universities for foreign students: Because the average foreign university student would fail miserably.
No one who knows anything about the dual system would ever come to the conclusion that this type of education is worse than others.

So if anything, that ranking shows that its makers didn't do their research properly, or are highly biased. I don't know which would be worse.

/rant

Edit: Note that I put "workers" in quotation marks. By no means I mean that in a derogatory way, but it's a fact that most people end up working, as an average worker. That includes almost all professions where they aren't either being highly innovative or teaching at an advanced level. Those people should have a deep knowledge of what they actually are (or will be) doing, and not of the theory of relativity. That doesn't make them dumber, or less educated (as if theoretical knowledge is education, but practical knowledge isn't).

Last edited by namegoeshere; 12-14-2011 at 07:45 AM..
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Perry, UT
596 posts, read 787,489 times
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Disneyland

Seriously there is no such thing as a happy country or nation. For one with tons of money every country could be a happy place and for the one on the street the wealthiest nation can be the saddest.

Besides that I have to say that people interact more friendly with each other in the American continent than in any European country.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:29 AM
 
1,736 posts, read 861,623 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tenshi28 View Post
I read a very interesting article on Norway recently and, while oil helps a great deal, there seems to be much more to the success of Norway as a country than the wealth derived from crude. They seem to have a very cohesive society where most people seem keenly aware of how important it is to go in the same direction as a country, so everybody ultimately benefits from it.
One of the most interesting things about Norway is that the oil wealth isn't actually spent. Its all invested in a sovereign wealth fund. Norway runs on the non-oil income.
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