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!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – Mihailo K

10 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    ………does EU/DE insinuate these “good rankings” are due to being part of the 2002 EMU19 club? Since it is the political silly season- aka- election time- it probably is so.

    The “common & old fashioned” way to measure a NATION’S achievement (GDP,PPP, CPI…) and “automatically” conclude: that “people” in rich(er) nations, who are “better off” must therefore be “happier” than “people” within poor(er) nations- is not necessarily so and definitely not true.

    The 2012 UN introduced alternative way (HI) using more indicators to assess a nation is surely a better method- but is still not absolute conclusive.

    Why? Since all these indexes do not- when measuring a whole nation- separate political, economic, governance & policy performance of an entire community from a person’s individual circumstance & experience.

    However, the new “World Happiness Index” measuring a whole nation by using additional indexes is a good improvement over the old one. Some years ago I suggested considering the use of the HI to “unionize”- on a purely voluntary basis- similar ranked European countries (multi speed EU) instead the rigid & one sided political EU selection criteria.

    How many of the 500mio EU citizens/people are having a multitude of personal reasons to be “unhappy”? We wouldn’t know. A nations economic well-being- specifically one controlled by the current EU concept- is not equal to personal happiness, while only sharing certain political & economical commonalities.

    And should the EU/DE think because 8 of the 10 top rankings are (still) in the European EU and such happiness is embedded in the magic of supranational and multicultural policies- they need to think again!

    The slight losses (-) shown in some of the EU top nations- should not be overlooked. New Zealand, Australia & Canada are examples of happy countries- not “UNIONIZED”

    To yearn for personal happiness is best achieved by non political means- like:

    Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. speaks about “Emotional Fitness” & inner peace.

    Robert Puff Ph.D. “Meditation for Modern Life” due to a stressful live.

    No consolation for EU stagnation!

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Sorry, for my fake news! My apologies for selecting & counting wrongly. Up to 10 is quite a mission at times!

      Of course: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, New Zealand & Australia of the top 10 are not EU members= 7. So it is even a worse outcome for the EU. Only 3 out of 10 are happy (30%)! Please check & correct if wrong. Too many tables! OMG- what a bad reflection!

      The UK might even move up the ladder after Brexit?

      Conclusion: You definitely would be “happier” outside than inside the EU!

  2. avatar

    But growth could contribute to happiness

  3. avatar

    For the Western world when welfare by the government and economic policies are giving ‘cherry’ to the people—–people don’t have to limit their life objective for ‘food, cloth, and shelter’. So, their ‘perpetual’ happiness is necessary as they have ‘nothing’ left to cry out for……But in the ‘developing’ world, ‘happiness’ don’t come in ‘Santa’s gift box’. They have to work to earn money so that they will remain happy. One can’t compare the economy and happiness. The economy is fact and ‘happiness’ is ‘perception’, which changes according to time, context, and circumstances. :)

  4. avatar

    Neo-liberal economics and the post-modern social rule subjugated the interests of society to the demands of the economy. A very big mistake. Some people start to recognize this mistake, and they get labelled all kinds of evil.
    Someday enough people will wake up.

  5. avatar

    I think that indirectly, economic growth might contribute to happiness, due to the simple fact that populations with higher purchasing power indices are more easily able to afford goods that might contribute to their happiness (e.g. being able to afford materials for a hobby). Equally, societies with more economic growth tend to (generally) be associated with better work-leisure ratios, again contributing to the well being of the population.

  6. avatar
    catherine benning

    How would you secure Europe’s borders?

    Over simplified question. One cannot exist without the other. Although there is an element of deferred gratification in all life expectations.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      I wrongly added the thread of another question to this above post. It should have been….” Is happiness more important than economic growth?”

  7. avatar

    If happiness is evenly enjoyed by all members of the society/state including those vulnerable ones, of course, economic growth is not important at all. What is important is to see the society as a whole not ourselves alone.

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