Gauging Happiness by Country
It is not an easy task to measure happiness. Often times, official studies choose measures such as wealth and health to determine happiness. This generally places European countries and especially Scandinavian nations at the top of the list. However, from my travels I have witnessed that often times it is not wealth that makes people seem the happiest. It is often things like social engagement and the weather that lead to happiness and should be measured in smiles rather than euros.
The current lists generally place Denmark at the top, but when I was there it didn’t seem that the people were as happy as they were in places like Venezuela. Or perhaps I felt happier in a Latin American country more than in Europe. But when these rankings put Switzerland in the top ten despite reports that the people are as cold as the weather, then one must look at another metric.
Forbes magazine does measure “Daily Experience”. Daily experience is where people rank their happiness for the previous day on a scale of one-to-ten. To me, this indicates true happiness more than financial measures do. So I will use this data to measure happiness. By ranking on daily experience we see that the world’s happiest countries tend to fall in Latin America, which is where I have personally noticed more happiness than in Europe during my travels.
So let’s take a look at the top ten based on Daily Experience:
- Costa Rica
This lines up with my experience that Venezuelans and Costa Ricans are happier than the Danes (though Denmark does rank 12th). Not to say that the Danes aren’t a happy people, it’s just that they didn’t seem as happy as Latinos and I didn’t feel as happy either. One thing that would be worth inquiring into would be whether or not the Icelanders and Danes were asked this questions during the summer or the winter, because I suspect with those very long northern winter nights that the Danes and Icelanders would feel rather depressed. It seems that the researchers should ask this question about four times a year (one for each season) and then average the results.
If you are looking at a country for expatriation it probably means that you have some money socked away. You might want to choose one of these countries with a happy daily experience rather than the expensive euro-zone countries that also have the world’s highest tax rates.