Saturday, 4 June 2011

The 10 Happiest Countries In The World


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What makes people happy? The question, which has been debated by philosophers for centuries, now is being tackled by international bureaucrats and the results are interesting, to say the least.

24/7 Wall St. analyzed the new OECD Better Life Index to objectively determine the happiest countries in the world. The Index is based on 11 measurements of quality of life including housing, income, jobs, community, education, the environment, health, work-life balance, and life satisfaction. We made “life satisfaction” the cornerstone of our index because it is as good a proxy for “happiness” as the survey provides. We then compared “life satisfaction” scores to the other measurements to find those economic and socio-political realities that had the highest and lowest correlation to happiness.

Read the rest at 24/7 Wall Street >

10. Austria

Life Satisfaction Score: 8.39

Debt As a Pct. of GDP: 65.7% (23rd lowest highest)

Employment Rate: 7.87 (9th best)

Self-Reported Health: 6.57 (19th best)

Employees Working Long Hours: 8.01 (24th best)

Disposable Income: 5.34 (3rd best)

Educational Attainment: 8.43 (13th best)

Life Expectancy: 7.58 (13th best)

Austria has the one of the highest levels of scores for disposable income (the amount of money the household earns after taxes) in the OECD. Roughly 72% of Austrians between the ages of 15 and 64 are working, compared to the OECD average of 65%.

Only 1.13% of working-age Austrians have been unemployed for more than a year, compared to an average of 2.7% across the 34 OECD nations, which contributes to the country’s long-term employment.

According to the OECD’s latest economic outlook report, Austrian businesses have largely avoided having to implement layoffs to offset the effect of the recession, employing practices like “labor hoarding” which reduces working hours and requires workers to work part-time and share job shifts.

9. Israel

Life Satisfaction Score: 8.71

Debt As a Pct. of GDP: 74.7% (26th lowest)

Employment Rate: 4.23 (25th best)

Self-Reported Health: 8.29 (10th best)

Employees Working Long Hours: 5.05 (29th best)

Disposable Income: n/a

Educational Attainment: 8.46 (12th best)

Life Expectancy: 8.24 (8th best)

Israel is an outlier among OECD nations because it has a relatively high life satisfaction score, but performs poorly for many of the 19 quality of life measurements. For example, Israel has the sixth worst scores for student reading and the fourth worst scores for long hours worked, with 0.23% of workers maintaining extremely long hours compared to a OECD average of less than .1%.

However, Israel’s score for household wealth (which measures the total worth of a family’s income and property after liabilities) is the fifth-highest across all nations on this list. Each household has an average estimated wealth of more than $62,000, compared to an average of less than $37,000.

Part of the reason is low taxes – the country has an income tax rate of 6.3% of GDP, the sixth-lowest in the OECD.

8. Finland

Life Satisfaction Score: 8.71

Debt As a Pct. of GDP: 41.6% (15th lowest)

Employment Score: 6.77 (14th best)

Self-Reported Health: 6.25 (21st best)

Employees Working Long Hours: 9.32 (9th best)

Disposable Income: 4.38 (15th best)

Educational Attainment: 8.43 (13th best)

Life Expectancy: 6.92 (18th best)

For many of the metrics considered by the OECD for its “Better Life Initiative,” Finland ranks about average. The country stands out in a few categories, however, causing it to rank eighth best for “life satisfaction.” The category in which Finland does the best is education.

Finnish students have the second best reading skills among students in all OECD countries, behind only South Korea. According to OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, literacy is one of the most reliable predictors of economic and social well-being. In 2009, the average student in Finland scored 536 out of 600 in literacy. The OECD average is 493.

The quality of Finland’s educational system can be attributed to the high respect the country shows its teachers. Teaching is “one of the most sought-after professions in the country,” according to the OECD. Finland also scores very well regarding the work-life balance. Citizens work almost 100 fewer hours per year than the OECD average.

Also, 76% of mothers are employed once their children begin school — the fifth highest rate. This implies that mothers in Finland are largely able to balance family life and work.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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