The World’s Happiest Countries
Most of the nations atop our list are democratic, business-friendly, and boast strong social safety nets.
Think about it for a minute: What does happiness mean to you?
For most, being happy starts with having enough money to do what you want and buy what you want. A nice home, food, clothes, car, leisure. All within reason.
See the full list of The World’s 10 Happiest Countries
The Top 5 Happiest countries in the World
5. New Zealand
But happiness is much more than money. It’s being healthy, free from pain, being able to take care of yourself. It’s having good times with friends and family.
Furthermore, happiness means being able to speak what’s on your mind without fear, to worship the God of your choosing, and to feel safe and secure in your own home.
Happiness means having opportunity–to get an education, to be an entrepreneur. What’s more satisfying than having a big idea and turning it into a thriving business, knowing all the way that the harder you work, the more reward you can expect?
With this in mind, five years ago researchers at the Legatum Institute, a London-based nonpartisan think tank, set out to rank the happiest countries in the world. But because “happy” carries too much of a touchy-feely connotation, they call it “prosperity.”
Legatum recently completed its 2010 Prosperity Index, which ranks 110 countries, covering 90% of the world’s population.
To build its index Legatum gathers upward of a dozen international surveys done by the likes of the Gallup polling group, the Heritage Foundation and the World Economic Forum. Each country is ranked on 89 variables sorted into eight subsections: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.
The core conceit: Prosperity is complex; achieving it relies on a confluence of factors that build on each other in a virtuous circle.
Ultimately how happy you are depends on how happy you’ve been. If you’re already rich, like Scandinavia, then more freedom, security and health would add the most to happiness. For the likes of China and India (ranked 88th), it’s more a case of “show me the money.” What they want most of all? The opportunity to prove to themselves that money doesn’t buy happiness.