The World Values Survey, which has compiled data from 350,000 people in 97 countries since 1981, this year again found Danes to be the world's happiest nation, with Zimbabweans unsurprisingly again as the most miserable. The US, with the highest material wealth in the world, only came in 16th on the list.
The aim of the survey is to measure "subjective well-being" through qualitative measure of peoples' happiness and life satisfaction. It uses two basic questions, which have never changed: "How would you rate your happiness?" and "How satisfied are you with your life these days?"
This year's results were interesting for analysts as the findings were said to have defied conventional wisdom on the subject of happiness. Factors such as freedom of choice and social acceptance are the most powerful forces behind national moods. Monetary wealth, whilst important, doesn't tell the whole story, according to University of Michigan political scientist Ronald Inglehar, who headed up the study.
In poorer countries, happiness can be linked to solidarity among tight-knit communities, religious conviction, and patriotism, which probably explains the happiness of some relatively poor Latin American countries.
South Africans appear to not be very happy at all. We're ranked outside the top 100...
Via: BusinessWeek, Synergetics