Wealth is easy to quantify, so many governments concentrate on fixing this variable. That appears to be Donald Trump’s intention in the U.S., too. But the experience of the small European nations at the top of the table shows that once a certain level of wealth is achieved, growth isn’t as important to happiness levels. As long as per capita GDP is relatively stable, the other factors do their job, and if there’s a problem with them — for example, health care becomes less accessible or deteriorates, the social fabric starts fraying, people grow more selfish or freedom erodes — people tend to feel unhappy despite an unchanged comfort level.
I think that they need to start looking at the United States differently. Here are the report’s ten happiest countries:
- New Zealand
The U. S. is fourteenth.
Those countries have some things in common. With the exception of Finland they’re all mostly speakers of Germanic languages (as is the U. S.). They’re all small and quite homogeneous. Many are culturally Lutheran.
The United States is the only really populous, racially and ethnically diverse country among the twenty happiest countries. So, two cheers for us.
Not only are we large and diverse but we’re able to keep it together. Rather than moaning (or chuckling) that the U. S. isn’t the happiest country, maybe other countries should be wondering about the secret of our success.