For all that Swedes complain about the winter, weather, and rain, Sweden is one of the happiest places on Earth.
And so is Finland, Norway, and Denmark. Our saddest little neighbor, Iceland, is only the 15th happiest place on Earth.
Overall, the Nordic region is one happy family and Scandinavia is Disneyland in real life.
The 2012 Legatum Prosperity Index, produced by a British non-partisan public policy organisation, identifies the world’s happiest and saddest countries. They used several sources of data (objective and subjective) from Gallup, World Development Indices, and self researched. The 2012 LPI is similar to the UN World Happiness Report though the latter relies more on surveys than objective data.
The LPI focused on eight areas: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.
Scandinavia and the greater group, the Nordic region, rank near the top in every category.
Here are the rankings of the Nordic countries. A few OECD and BRIC countries are included for comparison.
In some ways, the findings are not too surprising. India, while growing economically, severely lacks basic access to healthcare and sanitation. Women, suffering some of the greatest injustices in the world, sends the country spiraling downwards when backwards ideology like “marrying your rapist” is acceptable. Interestingly, governance is the country’s highest ranking factor; perhaps a sign that India has the potential to become a better and happier place.
The United States dropped two spots to 12 after three years of holding 10. A massive recession coupled with increased long term unemployment, decisive elections, and long wars have played its toll on the American psyché. The next several years will tell if the people can return to higher levels or continue on a broken path.
There was one very interesting finding. Nordic swept the Entrepreneurship and Opportunity category. Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway took the top four positions. I would not have expected it because the venture climate is still lukewarm. Delving into the study questions, it became clear that the Nordic region would top the list. Some questions included, Mobile phones (per 100 people), Mobile phones per household, Secure internet servers (per 1 million people), Good place for entrepreneurs to start a business? (% yes), Business start-up costs (% of GNI per capita).
And most definitely the Nordic region is home to cheap cell phone plans and low start up costs from Skatteverket. If you think about it, how many people do you know owning a HB or AB in Sweden versus your home country?
Looking at the World Happiness Report, the Nordic region holds the top three slots (Denmark, Finland, Norway) followed by the Netherlands and Canada. The whining about the Swedish weather pushed Sweden out of the top.
Still, after all our complaining about Sweden, it really is not a bad place. We are happy, prosperous, and eat a lot of semlor. What more could one ask?
Now only if Disney opened a Disneyland here would we be truly the happiest people on Earth.