Why We Don’t Want To Be The World’s Happiest Country
But I didn’t realize how unhappy I was with the happiness criteria for the World Happiness Report until now.
Finland, and then Denmark and Iceland top the March 2022 World Happiness Report rankings.
The orange countries are happier while purple places you at the bottom of the list. Canada, the U.S., and U.K. were, respectively, 15, 16, and 17:
At first, it all sounds pretty logical. There were many thousands of participants in 146 countries that, mostly through questions asked by Gallup, expressed how “happy” they were. The categories were social support, life expectancy, generosity, freedom, corruption, and GDP levels.
Looking back, we would see that Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands have been consistently happy:
My basic concern echoes a Bloomberg columnist’s comments. The variables they’ve selected ignore competition, ambition, inventiveness, hard work. Emphasizing balance, complacency, and contentment, they avoid an edginess.
Our Bottom Line: The Cantrell Life Ladder
Some have suggested that rather than World Happiness, we are really measuring World Contentment. The reason is the Cantrell Life Ladder.
To survey participants, Gallup explained it in this way:
Basing your answer on the Cantrell Life ladder, you consider the difference between what you have and what you could have. If your aspirations (and imagination) are limited, then the gap is small and your score goes up. Consequently, you could be more content with your lot because there is little more you can climb to. I know that all of this could take us to an affluent egalitarian society. It could mean adequate healthcare for all and equal incomes.
But still, a part of me returns to the market’s inequalities, the competition, the ambition, and the invention that elevated our living standards during the past two centuries.
My sources and more: To see why happiness is not all it appears to be, this Bloomberg column and this Atlantic article convinced me. Then, as did I, please check the 2022 World Happiness Report and the Report’s FAQs. I would appreciate hearing your opinion. Do send an econlife comment.
Previously posted on econlife.com, April 4, 2022.