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Americans "Happiest people on earth".

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    Americans "Happiest people on earth".

    "Happiness is the end for which human beings are designed", said Aristotle. The question of how well this end is being served in human societies around the world was the object of a 22-nation survey undertaken by Roper Starch Worldwide, the international market research agency.

    According to the survey, the "1999 Happiness Barometer", Americans are by far the happiest people, with as many as 46 per cent of them saying they are "very happy" with the overall quality of their life. Indians are not far behind, with 37 per cent declaring themselves very happy - against the global average of only 24 per cent. More, Indians are ahead of the British, French and other Europeans in the happiness ratings.

    The Chinese (at 9 per cent) and Russians (at 3 per cent) rated as the unhappiest populations in the sample.

    People were asked about the extent of their satisfaction with various aspects of their life. Among them: the amount of money they have; the material goods they own, their job, the leisure time they have; the role of religion in their life; relationships with family and friends; and, not to forget, their sex life!

    Why Indians are so high in the ratings has perhaps to do with what Paul Krugman has called the "Easterlin Paradox". According to economic historian Richard Easterlin, above a fairly low level money and material goods alone do not seem to improve the sense of well- being of a population. It may be that India is at that low material level where a marked improvement contributes to a substantial level of well-being.

    The Easterlin thesis also says that beyond a certain income level non-pecuniary factors tend to loom large. For example, being married contributes more to happiness than being rich; and having a job is more important than how much it pays.

    In the present survey, `relationships with family and friends' seem to be a most important source of happiness; and nations that rate high on this parameter (the US, the UK, India) also score high in overall happiness.

    The "role of religion" in one's life (a source of happiness for as many as 46 per cent of Americans and 36 per cent of Indians) seems to be another strong explanatory factor for the high overall ratings of these nations.

    One finding that stands out is that 42 per cent of Indians (the highest for any nation) are very happy with their level of self- confidence.

    Surprisingly, it is not the French but the Americans who are most satisfied with their sex life. The French, however, are ahead of the British in this.

    If there is one factor in respect of which all nations rank similarly, it is in the uniformly low level of satisfaction with the state of the country's economy - really a comment on the performance of the national government. Even in the US, which is now enjoying an unprecedented run of fat years, only 14 per cent say they are very happy with their economy; everywhere else the satisfaction rate is in the single digit.

    A total of 22,500 interviews were conducted across 22 countries in October-November 1999.

    22500 interviews in 22 countries, i.e. roughly 1022 people per country or so in a period spanning a whopping one month

    I see serious issues with this size sample and time frame.

    This marketign research company needs to follow research fundamentals before it can say with confidence that interviews confined to a one month period with a sample size of such miniscule nature means anything but hogwash.


      how does time frame matter? just curious. i dont expect people's happiness to change radically from april to may.


        National and international events, religeous festivals, economy at that point in time. sports victories.

        Does your overall level of happiness change over a period of time? indeed it does. To have a normalized study they should have picked larger samples and over different time frames to even out any such peaks and troughs in the national psyche.

        This is not some idea that I pulled out of mid air, but its general sampling methodology, whether its business, scientific or social samples... if you dont do that you have to indicate as a part of your results that there could be an impact on the results due to such factors.

        I am not debating with the results, since I have no idea on that. I am just debating on the methodology applied.

        Most people will not question it, but anyone who has been involved in large scale sampling would know. There are also confidence levels based on the weakness of the sampling which need to be made public as well.

        All in all, count the number of people in these countries total and then count the number of people surveyed, and then ask any pollster what they think of the methodology


          What a waste of money on this survey