Recent data collected and collated through Gallup Polls and Numbeo and published through the United Nations, shows that countries with people who claim to be the happiest, or most satisfied with their lives do not equate to life being ‘cheap’. Countries where costs of living are the lowest do not show-up as having the happiest or most satisfied populations (there is actually very little difference when comparing results for these two definitions). Nor, perhaps surprisingly, do countries with relatively high taxing regimes show up as having unhappy or dissatisfied populations – quite the contrary.
So what factors contribute to a feeling of happiness or satisfaction?
Secondly, a wide range of criteria was used, reflecting on personal well-being, education, employment and access to media. These variables included GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.
Thirdly, results take into account the obvious – income against essential expenditure, the latter incorporating items including local purchasing power, rent or mortgage, cost of groceries, medications, eating out in a restaurant.
Regardless of the above, ‘happiness’ is still very subjective, and priorities effecting anyone’s life at any time do not necessarily equate to happiness, a preference to live as they are living at that time rather than some other way. Some would even say that happiness has to be earned!
The first list is of the top 20 countries where happiness is assessed as highest – 14 are in Europe or North America. Interestingly, the country with the highest tax burden – Denmark – apparently has the happiest population. The second list identifies countries where costs of living are the most affordable: several European countries feature in this list too, and all are compared with New York City at a base of 100. No country appears in both lists, so apparently happiness does not necessarily equate to affordability of lifestyle!