A new study out this week says that the Danes are the happiest people on Earth. Other rich European countries also scored highly, while the U.S. came in at a respectable #23. Money may not buy happiness, but it certainly helps. Bringing up the rear were Zimbabwe and Burundi. The real surprise was Japan–by most accounts the most expensive destination on the planet–which fared a shocking #90. Maybe they’re just tired of eating raw fish?
I’m excerpting this part verbatim because it’s quite profound:
Good health may be the key to happiness, but money helps open the door. Wealthier countries, such as Switzerland (2) and Luxembourg (10) scored high on the index. Not surprisingly, most African countries, which have little of either; scored poorly. Zimbabwe, which has an AIDS rate of 25%, an average life expectancy of 39, and an 80% poverty rate, ranked near the bottom at 177. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis gave fellow Africans in Burundi, ranked 178, even less to smile about, despite their having a slightly lower poverty rate of 68%.
Capitalism, meanwhile, fared quite well. Free-market systems are sometimes blamed for producing unhappiness due to insecurity and competition, but the U.S. was No. 23 and all the top-ranking European countries are firmly capitalist—albeit of a social-democratic flavor.