What makes people happy? This is a difficult question, particularly when one considers that there is a growing trend in some policy circles to emphasise happiness as a goal, instead of concentrating efforts on making people richer. The BBC even broadcast a series looking at the new science of happiness.

So, if happiness is entering the realms of scientific research and policy-making, we have to determine how we can measure happiness, or even trying to determine if such thing is possible. Do you simply ask people? Organise surveys? Measure happy thoughts?

The Happy Planet Index attempts to do just that. While it doesn’t measure absolute happiness, it “shows the relative efficiency with which nations convert the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens“. The top countries on the list are:

1 Vanuatu
2 Colombia
3 Costa Rica
4 Dominica
5 Panama

Vanuatu? This is a country famous for being a tax haven, hosting KaZaA and being the online pharmacy capital of the world. Internet hosting haven equals happiness? Well, maybe. Costa Rica is number three, and we are a gambling website hub.

Of course, I’m a bit depressed about these news, because while all my fellow Costa Ricans are having a happy time, I’m stuck in cold Edinburgh.



Luke Razzell · September 29, 2006 at 3:28 am

I just read a really interesting book by Jonathan Haidt called "The Happiness Hypothesis" about this very subject. It contains diverse wonderful observations and curious statistics, but one of my biggest takeaways was that happiness is about relishing the journey and not getting too fixated on the goal itself. : )


Ilanah · September 29, 2006 at 4:34 am

Where did the UK come?


Andres Guadamuz · September 29, 2006 at 8:35 am

Luke, I'll definitely buy that book, it looks great.Ilanah, the UK is Number 108. Must be all the grumpy Londoners 😉


feneuk · September 29, 2006 at 11:09 am

I hope you are not counting the grumpy Argentinians as grumpy Londoners! We came here to bring some happiness (el negro puede, pero no lo dejan…)


carobotero · September 30, 2006 at 4:06 pm

Violence, drugs… but happy!! = Colombia!


Txitua · October 2, 2006 at 7:35 am

Me he matado de la risa con tu comentario de la depresión.!!! Aquí en Venezuela hay un sol hermoso y de vez en cuando alguna lluvia torrencial. Suerte en UK!!!


Ilanah · October 2, 2006 at 2:37 pm

Andres – I now spend the majority of my waking hours, not in London, but rather in Middlesex! It's almost the countryside and I see horses on the way to work…

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