A recent study found that citizens of the U.S. were the 16th happiest as a nation in the world, so to increase happiness, perhaps we should move to a country ahead of us on the list. This World Values Study also found that the developed world in general is experiencing a overall global happiness trend. Since 1981, of the 52 countries surveyed, 45 claim to have increased their happiness.

The researchers from the U. of Michigan's Institute for Social Research attribute the trend to economic growth, social tolerance and the spread of democracy. Topping the list this year is Denmark, followed by Puerto Rico and Columbia. Other countries happier than ours include Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland, and Holland.

At the bottom of the list are Moldavia, Armenia and Zimbabwe. I'd already crossed them off my wish list of vacation destinations.

While I enjoy such lists, no two seem to jibe. For example, the U.N's 2004 list of countries by highest Human Development Index:

  1. Norway
  2. Iceland
  3. Australia
  4. Ireland
  5. Sweden
  6. Canada
  7. Japan
  8. U.S.
  9. Finland
  10. Netherlands
  11. Switzerland

The highest life expectancy (From The Economist)

  1. Andorra
  2. Japan
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Austrailia
  6. Spain
  7. Sweden
  8. Canada
  9. France
  10. Israel

The highest GDP per head (From The Economist)

  1. Luxembourg
  2. Bermuda
  3. Norway
  4. Iceland
  5. Switzerland
  6. Ireland
  7. Qatar
  8. Denmark
  9. Cayman Islands
  10. U.S.

What key statistics would you include to predict the happiness of a country's population? For me, I'd look at hours worked per week, food costs, health costs, education, and number of baseball teams.


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