Europe is one of the happiest places on Earth. Half of the top 10 happiest countries in the world (and more than half of the top 20) are EU Member States, according to the latest World Happiness Report, published in March 2019 by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
The report ranks countries according to a series of indicators, including income per capita, healthy life expectancy, freedom, and perceptions of corruption. Finland comes out on top as the happiest place on Earth, with Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria also ranking in the top ten.
There is, however, a great deal of variety between Member States; the “happiest” countries tend to be in Northern and Western Europe, whilst Southern and Eastern European countries generally score lower. Bulgaria, for example, is the least-happy EU Member State, placing 97th out of 156 in the rankings (only 11 places higher than Venezuela, a country currently enduring economic and social collapse).
So, quelle surprise, the richer EU Member States also tend to be happier. Does that mean that, ultimately, it really is all about economic growth and money? Or is it more about how we measure “happiness”? Is it possible to decouple our notion of progress from economic growth, maybe even ‘de-growing’ our economies and prioritising wellbeing? Or is that all a bunch of hippy nonsense?
Is happiness more important than economic growth? Is it possible to measure ‘wellbeing’? And is Europe really one of the happiest places on Earth? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!