Don't worry, be happy now
Man, it just don't make no sense. The Puerto Ricans are the happiest people in the world? Are its 13% unemployed happy, too? Singapore was the only Asian country to make the top 25, but come on--we all know that place is hardly a real country. Not much more than a parched little rock with shiny buildings and gum-free sidewalks.
I guess it's true: money really can't buy happiness.
Here is the World Values Survey website. I checked it out, but it doesn't really seem to give much info about their survey methods. Their sample size is over a thousand, but what did they do? Walk up to people on the street and ask them how happy they are? For what it's worth, here's the entire list, ranked from happiest to saddest.
Green indicates high income countries.
Red indicates Latin American countries.
Boldface indicates ex-communist countries.
Subjective Well-Being Rankings of 82 Societies
Puerto Rico, Mexico, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland, N. Ireland, Colombia, Netherlands, Canada, Austria, El Salvador, Venezuela, Luxembourg, U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Nigeria, Norway, Belgium, Finland
Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Britain, West Germany, France, Argentina, Vietnam, Chile, Philippines, Taiwan, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Spain, Israel, Italy, East Germany, Slovenia, Uruguay, Portugal, Japan, Czech Republic
South Africa, Croatia, Greece, Peru, China, South Korea, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Bosnia, Morocco, Uganda, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Hungary, Slovakia, Jordan
Estonia, Serbia, Tanzania, Azerbaijan, Montenegro, India, Lithuania, Macedonia, Pakistan, Latvia, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Georgia, Romania, Moldova, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Indonesia
Man, what in the world is wrong with Japan? The second strongest economy in the world, and it gets beaten by the former East Germany? People in Israel, living in constant fear of suicide bombers, are happier than the Japanese? For crying out loud, the Nigerians are way happier than the Japanese!
From the Nigeria Lonely Planet guide:
"From religious tensions in the north with the spread of Sharia law, to border conflict in the southeast with Cameroon as well as violent crime throughout the south, travellers need to be aware of what is going on around them at all times. Lagos and the Niger River delta in the south are particularly unstable, with carjackings, kidnapping, piracy, riots and ethnic clashes prevalent; the northern city of Kano is also dodgy. Travelling from the airport to Lagos can be an unpleasant initiation. Visitors to Lagos should arrange to be met on arrival. Street crime, robberies and muggings occur throughout the country, often in broad daylight."
And yet, the country ranks #20 to Japan's #42 and Korea's #49.
Here's my theory about the Latin American countries: they're lying. Come on, everyone knows that lying is a virtue in Latin American cultures! In contrast, Asians rarely admit to being happy, even if they are. This is, after all, a subjective well-being ranking. It's a bunch of quasi-scientific BS, man; I don't buy it for a second. There are a lot of cultural factors that aren't being taken into account.
But wait...I'm not happy, and I'm in a "medium low" country. Hmm, it all makes sense now. Bueno, no me voy a Japon, y empiezo a buscar for jobs in Puerto Rico.
Here's the bottom line: "Research around the world shows that married people or [cohabitating] people are much happier. Yet there's hardly any relationship between income and happiness," Veenhoven said. "So, rather than worry so much about your work, worry more about your wife."
But, but, but, Dr. Veenhoven, I tried that already, and it didn't work!