26 Feb Happiness – who has it and why?
The founding fathers of the United States declared independence from Great Britain with the memorable phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The phrase was inserted by Thomas Jefferson as a departure from Adam Smith’s more capitalistic formulation, “life, liberty and the pursuit of property.” (The frequent blurring of property and happiness in American poplar consciousness may well trace itself back to this tensionê¢__‘Ô_)
In recent years, some governments – notably the government of Bhutan – have suggested that a measure of gross national happiness might be a better evaluation of national priorities than a purely economic measure like “gross domestic product per capita”. And academic journals have appeared, dedicated to happiness studies, or the more academic-sounding ‘subjective Well-Being”. These journals produce lists of happiest and unhappiest nations, which are always good for a quick media story, proclaiming Denmark the happiest place on earth and Burundi the most miserable.
Adrian White from the University of Leicester has compiled a map of global happiness, using responses to the Satisfaction With Life Scale questionaire, a simple document designed to measure subjective well-being. It’s so simple that I can include it in its entirety: