Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

United States at Number 12 of the world's happiest countries

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Happiness generally means food to eat, being healthy, having enough money and good times with family and friends. A good home, clothing, cars and electronics at time fit into the equation. Happiness also means freedom of speech, religion and feeling secure. That's why it's rather troubling that the United States now ranks as the twelfth happiest nation, slipping from tenth place last year.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a recent study, the World's Ten Happiest Countries are:

1. Norway
2. Denmark
3. Sweden
4. Australia
5. New Zealand
6. Canada
7. Finland
8. The Netherlands
9. Switzerland
10. Ireland

Researchers at the Legatum Institute, a London-based nonpartisan think tank, set out to rank the happiest countries in the world. Upon reflection, the researchers decided to replace the ambiguous term "happy" - this can mean many different things to many different people, to "prosperity."

The objective of the institute's work was to figure out what it is that makes happy countries happy in order for the less fortunate corners of the globe might have a benchmark to work toward.

The resulting Legatum Prosperity Index is based on a study of 142 countries comprising 96 percent of global population. Nations were analyzed and ranked on 89 indicators in eight categories, such as education, government and economics.

Both objective and subjective, the study just didn't look at per capita GDP or unemployment rates. It also mattered how hard people think it is to find jobs, or how convinced they are that hard work can bring success.

In short, researchers say that "Prosperity is complex; achieving it relies on a confluence of factors that build on each other in a virtual circle."

According to Legatum, Norway is the happiest place in the world, followed by Denmark and Sweden. Rounding out the Scandinavians is Finland, just a few steps behind in the seventh spot. In addition, Luxembourg is the healthiest nation on Earth. Iceland is the safest. Switzerland has the world's best economy and governance, according to Legatum.

Norway enjoys a stunning per capita GDP of $57,000 a year. Norwegians also report the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living. Ninety-five percent say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives and a 74 percent say other people can be trusted.

What then, is the recipe for happy countries? Being an electoral democracy; only Singapore and Hong Kong aren't democracies. Being small also seems to help as big countries with heterogeneous populations are more unwieldy. Complex, disparate groups make it harder for a society to build social cohesion and trust.

According to Legatum, the U.S. has slipped in the areas of governance, personal freedom and in entrepreneurship and opportunity. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, but Legatum notes "a decline in citizens' perception that working hard gets you ahead."

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)