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Thread: The World's Happiest Countries

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by Dav View Post
    That's the thing, isn't it? People get completely freaked whenever the U.S. is not #1, even though 14 out of almost 200 would in most cases be a cause for celebration. I mean, look at France, for goodness sake... it's number 44. Poor Japan is listed as number 81, behind so many third-world nations. Hell, even the UK ranked behind us, at #17. These are all prosperous, industrial, Western countries that the U.S. ranks above. I'm suspicious of the ranking itself (really? Brazil and Panama tied at 12?), but before we panic about the U.S. being so much behind everyone else, maybe we should look at where we actually are... and who "everyone else" actually is.
    We can't be number #1 in everything. But I suspect that when Americans voice this, it is more about affection, nationalism, history, achievement, and future prospect. I would go as far as to state that we are probably higher than 14, but the sheltered lives Americans lead have many of them assuming that they have it bad sometimes.

    I noticed a trend on the list.

    1) Those European countries that rate extremely high (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands) are in the north and are generally removed from the core pain in the asses.

    2) The core European nations (Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Germany) all sat around the same place towards 50.

    3) The English speaking nations all rated much higher than the core European ones.

    4) Israel (#8), a nation constantly looking over its shoulder and constantly in a state of threatened war is higher than the vast majority on the list. And war torn Iraq sits at #110 above Syria and Egypt?

    I believe a nation's rank location say's a lot about the people and their social institutions rather than its "stable" environments and sense of power.
    Last edited by MSgt; 08-07-10 at 07:04 PM.

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by MSgt View Post
    We can't be number #1 in everything. But I suspect that when Americans voice this, it is more about affection, nationalism, history, achievement, and future prospect. I would go as far as to state that we are probably higher than 14, but the sheltered lives Americans lead have many of them assuming that they have it bad sometimes.

    I noticed a trend on the list.

    1) Those European countries that rate extremely high (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands) are in the north and are generally removed from the core pain in the asses.

    2) The core European nations (Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Germany) all sat around the same place towards 50.
    Spain and Greece, core EU nations?

    I read the whole article and watched how they made this ranking. It's just a poll.

    Instead, we should look the actual data's about the factors of happiness (which I have mentionned earlier in this thread). There are datas about basic needs, security, inequalities...and I think we can add other factors such as social networks (hard to measure, but it has been done by Emile Durkheim, who explained a higher rate of suicide in some societies with the integration level in social groups), hope to get a better future (that can be measured via social mobility: can poor people actually get rich?)

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post
    The point is that with a population that is 50 times larger, you can expect more diversity. In the USA, there are areas (around Detroit maybe) as big and as populated as Denmark, where people have a very low income and where unemployment is 20 or even 30%. But there are also areas (maybe around Washington) which are also as big and as populated as Denmark where people are twice richer and extremely happy.
    Diversity probably does play a part in it, that's a good point. I was looking at India, which was ranked very low (125) and the most predominant language spoken there, Hindi, is still only spoken by 45% of the inhabitants. Of course, the Nordic states and Iceland are indeed extremely homogeneous. It's hard to use this study to say anything definitive, but it does seem that democratic countries with liberal leadership and capitalist economies perform very well. However, I think it's much easier for the inhabitants of a country to elect a socialist president or prime minister when there is that kind of homogeneous population breakdown.

    Anyway, I'm with you. One thing I did want to add, though, is that I do not think suicide is a reliable indicator of happiness. The practice of suicide is perceived very differently in other countries. The Japanese tell stories of Samurai who killed themselves as an act of honor. It's thought of very, very differently in other countries.
    Last edited by Mustachio; 08-07-10 at 08:02 PM.
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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by spud_meister View Post
    Australia's a continent too, and it's happier.
    Am I the only one seeing the trend? It very much appears that the further away from the Middle East people get, the "happier" and more prosperous they become (with Israel being the lone exception and further down comes the U.A.E.). Religious wars, oppression, brutality, and radicalism have taken their toll. This is more or less accepted in the social studies of the world. But this trend doesn't end here. There is another trend that has started over the last 150 or so years......


    - Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands are in the top 5. European nations-true-but hardly a part of the core nation politics. Three are even separated physically.

    - Australia, started as a penal colony, yet manages to pull off an 8 in the end. It too is disconnected from the mainland as is New Zealand.

    - Switzerland has made it an exclamation point to steer wide and clear of European core politics in history.

    - The UK is separated physically and politically.

    - The Americas (Costa Rica, Canada, Panama, Brazil, the U.S., Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico) are also separated by an ocean as well as politics.


    These are 1-20 (minus Turkmenistan) of the "happiest" nations on this list. If Israel and the U.A.E. are the exceptions to an understood "rule" in regards to the Middle East, then perhaps Belgium and Austria are the exceptions for continental Europe? These are the core countries of Europe and their ranks...

    33 - Germany
    40 - Italy
    43 - Spain
    44 - France
    50 - Greece (?)
    56 - Poland


    Even Ireland pulled off a 22 while Iceland pulled a 23 - separated physically from continental Europe.

    I think there is something to this. Especially considering that 4 of these were dictatorships in the 20th century, 1 was invaded and slaughtered out by another, 1 has a history of selling out the continent, and 1 can't figure out what region it wants to gravitate towards. On top of this the two biggest violent disasters in history began between 2 of these and then again between the same 2 plus another. 2 of these are the loudest criticizers of English speaking nations, especially the U.S., which is ranked much more "happier." Unemployment remains steadily high and is actually considered normal. There is a lack of immigration programs.

    I am very fond of the philosphy that "culture is fate." People and instutions create general themes within nations and governments.

    Is it just me?
    Last edited by MSgt; 08-07-10 at 08:23 PM.

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post
    Spain and Greece, core EU nations?
    Are they not? Either way, they are core continental states. Spain shares a colonial and political history with the rest. And Greece? For some reason it just makes sense to me even though they don't even know what to consider themselves.


    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post
    I read the whole article and watched how they made this ranking. It's just a poll.
    Yeah I know, but the list was able to be made and it displayed the trend I always talk about. Obviously there is definately an error factor to consider, but the physical locations of the closer ranked nations seem to say something. Look at where the "seperated" nations within Europe are ranked. Now, look at where the English speaking nations are generally ranked and their physical locations. And now look at where the "core" nations of continental Europe are ranked.

    I know it's just a poll and one such as this has absolutely got to have tremoundous rank errors even when focusing a specific considerations, but I have talked about this sort of thing since you have known me while others argued it. How coincidental that some poll about national "happiness" meets the general themes of my discussions.

    I really do believe that there is something to the "the further away you get....."

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by MSgt View Post
    33 - Germany
    40 - Italy
    43 - Spain
    44 - France
    50 - Greece (?)
    56 - Poland
    You can't count peripheric countries like Spain, Greece and Poland as the "heart" of Europe and say that founding members of the EU like Belgium and the Netherlands are not part of it.

    Is it just me?
    Yes.

    Geography can explain some things (like Jared Diamond does in his great book "Guns, Germs & Steel) but it's never the geography in itself that makes the difference, it's always factors that have been shaped by geography. It does not make sense to say that Ireland is happy because it does not touch the European continent.

    Instead you should try to explain it by factors (like wealth, democracy, social inequalities...) that may have themselve been somewhat shaped by geography.

    To take the example of the M/E and Africa, you can explain the lack of happiness by the high level of violence/insecurity and the low level of wealth/hope to get a better future/freedom by the lack of democracy, which can be explained by historical factors (explained by Jared Diamond) and also by very concrete factors such as the massive presence of mineral sources (which can easily be controlled by a small minority of people = no middle class = no struggle for democracy / pressures by Western states to get access to these sources = support for dictators).

    So your argument is not really wrong, but you should go further

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by MSgt View Post
    Are they not? Either way, they are core continental states. Spain shares a colonial and political history with the rest. And Greece? For some reason it just makes sense to me even though they don't even know what to consider themselves.
    Greece is in the Balkans and both Spain and Greece entered quite lately in the EU. On the other hand, the Netherlands and Belgium are located at the heart of EU, they are founding members and the EU capital is Brussels. Of course you could reply that some Greek philosophers had a great influence on our civilization or that Spain was the most powerful country in the world 500 years ago, but that was a long time ago and that is not related to the level of happiness in these states (except if the Greeks start bragging about Aristotles and get overly proud about the Iliad, but that sounds dubbious)

    Yeah I know, but the list was able to be made and it displayed the trend I always talk about. Obviously there is definately an error factor to consider, but the physical locations of the closer ranked nations seem to say something. Look at where the "seperated" nations within Europe are ranked. Now, look at where the English speaking nations are generally ranked and their physical locations. And now look at where the "core" nations of continental Europe are ranked.

    I know it's just a poll and one such as this has absolutely got to have tremoundous rank errors even when focusing a specific considerations, but I have talked about this sort of thing since you have known me while others argued it. How coincidental that some poll about national "happiness" meets the general themes of my discussions.

    I really do believe that there is something to the "the further away you get....."
    Well I don't really disagree with you, but I think my arguments are a bit different than yours.

    There are 3 models in Europe:
    - the Nordic model
    - the Mediterranean model
    - the Anglo-Saxon model

    There is not an "European" model vs. an "American model".

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post
    You can't count peripheric countries like Spain, Greece and Poland as the "heart" of Europe and say that founding members of the EU like Belgium and the Netherlands are not part of it.
    The heart of Europe is what has largely controlled European's mood. The absolute orchestrator of European behavior has been France and Germany. The EU is merely an organization that caulks over tribal cracks. It also came much later and even with it, France and Germany are string pullers. What path has Belgium or the Netherlands orchestrated for Europe in the past 100 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post

    Yes.
    Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post
    Geography can explain some things (like Jared Diamond does in his great book "Guns, Germs & Steel) but it's never the geography in itself that makes the difference, it's always factors that have been shaped by geography. It does not make sense to say that Ireland is happy because it does not touch the European continent.

    Instead you should try to explain it by factors (like wealth, democracy, social inequalities...) that may have themselve been somewhat shaped by geography.

    To take the example of the M/E and Africa, you can explain the lack of happiness by the high level of violence/insecurity and the low level of wealth/hope to get a better future/freedom by the lack of democracy, which can be explained by historical factors (explained by Jared Diamond) and also by very concrete factors such as the massive presence of mineral sources (which can easily be controlled by a small minority of people = no middle class = no struggle for democracy / pressures by Western states to get access to these sources = support for dictators).

    So your argument is not really wrong, but you should go further
    Well, further means drawing on history. I just wanted to broad stroke a general theme. You've mentioned details that define the generalities. But I absolutely do not believe that geography shaped population moods as much as populations shared their themes with their neighbors. This is why the general locations of the ranked seem to gravitate towards each other.

    Regions have been shaped out of the political moods of foreign colonial powers. These colonial powers are also the ones that eventually hosted two World Wars amongst them. In colonialism's wake, Africa and the Middle East have social class systems that simply did not exist before and it is this upper class elite (land owners) that dictate political parties, social prescription, and unequal class stability. Africa and the Middle East are horribly "unhappy" (with Israel proving that they are not the problem). In the process and wake of two World Wars, European core countries saw physical devistation and psychological blows to pride and identity. The great powers of the world reduced themselves to small players. France, through de Gaulle, sought ways to re-capture past glory, but with the blows of the Suez War and Algeria, even a nuclear arsenol couldn't do it. Germany, with their history in Africa and then WWII didn't exactly emerge as proud people. Institutionally, bitterness has become a theme and there is no way you can state that France and Germany hasn't influenced a few things on the continent.

    In the mean time, high unemployment and the addition of immigrants have not fostered the "happiest" of nations amongst this core.


    By the way, notice where Iraq sits? Even after the events between 2005 and 2009, they rank at 110? Social correction and democracy in the making.

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post
    Greece is in the Balkans and both Spain and Greece entered quite lately in the EU. On the other hand, the Netherlands and Belgium are located at the heart of EU, they are founding members and the EU capital is Brussels. Of course you could reply that some Greek philosophers had a great influence on our civilization or that Spain was the most powerful country in the world 500 years ago, but that was a long time ago and that is not related to the level of happiness in these states (except if the Greeks start bragging about Aristotles and get overly proud about the Iliad, but that sounds dubbious)
    You keep bringing up the EU. It has nothing to do with anything. What has the EU done in history to shape today's cultures on the continent? In terms of the last century and a half, it is brand new. It's a simple organization anyway. Beneath the flag sits individual countries, cultures, populations, histories and themes. I consider the core countries as a historical thing. Which countries on the continent steered the region over time and shaped general moods? Switzerland wanted nothing to do with Germany or France's bickering and where do they sit on the list? Poland was wrecked by Germany and where do they sit? Civilizations are like people. When disaster befalls them they have to recover. But civilizations demand that entire populations recover and the 20th century has developed a certain mood amongst these nations that others do not have. Notice how little, as compared with the rest, the top 4 nations on the list had to do with Europe's 20th century disasters?

    The Middle East suffered through a lot of self instigated disasters (and some from the outside) and they have evolved into where they sit on that list. Other region's are no different. Why is Europe so divided in terms of "happiness" on this list? The America's seem to all come together on this list. Physical location within Europe is definately a part of it, but it's this physical location that allowed others to separate politically and socially from the core. Would the Americas be what it is today if it shared European or Middle Eastern borders? I think hell no. All the regional madness would have infected our cultures and dictated future themes. Australia sits at number 8. There is no damn way it would sit so high if it wasn't separated. (Israel appears to be the EXTREME exception to such a rule). But all rules have exceptions, which is where I place Belgium.


    Quote Originally Posted by bub View Post

    Well I don't really disagree with you, but I think my arguments are a bit different than yours.

    There are 3 models in Europe:
    - the Nordic model
    - the Mediterranean model
    - the Anglo-Saxon model

    There is not an "European" model vs. an "American model".
    Absolutely and I can appreciate that. But this list tends to show that distinction within Europe as well as a merger of these 3 models. It's not as simple as separting France and Germany from Italy just because of the Nordic or Med status. This didn't matter during the "Scramble for Africa" where they all behaved badly (Germany being the distinctive worse and Belgium being the nation of choice by the other European powers to replace Germany in Africa). Nor did it matter when Italy (Med) joined with Germany (Nord) against France (Nord) and Britain (Anglo). Of course, economically in the year 2010, the Med states have certainly stood out fromthe rest.

    But I believe that history has shaped regional moods even within Europe. The Anglo-Saxon Model was separate from the influences and pressures of France and Germany over the centuries. The rebellion against Catholicism also sent the northern regions in a different direction, which relates to civilizational themes of individualism, sense of liberty, and value perspective. France may have sparked the "Democracy Revolution" in Europe, but because of Catholic group obedience, actual liberty meant something different to the Protestant states. Germany rebelled against Catholicism too, but neighboring with France meant that certain themes of pride, power, and traditional moods crossed borders.

    Spain, Germany and Italy, shared a dictator's theme in the 20th century. They share a certian psychological bind. Germany was embarrased twice with the loss of both World Wars and France had to be liberated by outsiders. They share a certain psychological bind of shame or bruised pride. Then came Russia's embarrassment in 1989. Now, I'm not talking about all individuals. But individuals do make a population. And these populations carry their themes across neighboring borders. For example; plenty of people in America could care less about Vietnam's outcome, but together we were an embarrassed nation. It has manifested a certain attitude in our population. Culture is shaped by these things and it affects more than people think.

    I believe "happiness" on the continent transcends the 3 distinct models you produced and it relates to proximity (especially in terms of politics) to France and Germany.

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    Re: The World's Happiest Countries

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    Well look at from a statistical distribution standpoint.

    I think Aborigines make up around 3% of your population.
    So even if they are miserable (0 on the scale), if would hardly have any effect on the statistical outcome.

    I think any country with a sizable minority population will have a lesser happiness score for that reason alone.
    That's not entirely correct, in Israel 25% of the citizens belong to the different minorities, 20% of the citizens to the Arab minority, yet it was ranked at #8.

    If you'd like my opinion on that list I think it mainly has to do with how beautiful the women of your country are.
    Although in that case I'd rank the Netherlands first, and Brazil and my country will get higher places.

    Besides that I don't get all the fuss about the US, #14 is pretty high when you think about it.
    Last edited by Apocalypse; 08-08-10 at 06:45 AM.
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