Would you believe it, Bangladesh is the happiest nation in the world! The United States, on the other hand, is a sad story: it ranks only 46th in the World Happiness Survey. That’s way behind India, the fifth happiest place in the world, and others including Ghana and Latvia, Croatia and Estonia.
Research led by London School of Economics professors into the link between personal spending power and the perceived quality of life has conclusively proved that money can buy everything but happiness. The study revealed that people in Bangladesh,one of the poorest countries in the world, derive far more happiness from their small incomes than, for example, the British (32nd on the list) do from their relatively large bank balances. In fact, people in most rich countries including Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and others are much more unhappier than their poorer counterparts in countries like the Dominican Republic and Armenia.
Most unfortunate, however, are Russians and people in some other parts of the former Soviet Union. They are neither rich nor happy, indicates the World Happiness Survey. Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and Moldova follow the United States in the list to bring up the rear. The study shows that although the British have twice as much money to spend in real terms compared with 40 years ago, their perceived quality of life has not improved. Earlier surveys revealed that many Britons thought money could bring happiness. The new study shows that such a link still exists in poor countries because a small increase in income can mean large improvements in lifestyle.
However, beyond a certain income-level that direct relationship breaks down. According to the research, happiness in rich countries now is far more dependent on close personal relationships, good health and job satisfaction. “People in Britain are generally less happy than they were ten years ago. Two-thirds would rather see the environment improved than have more economic growth and personal spending money,” said Robert Worcester, visiting professor of government at the LSE and co-author of the study.
The researchers have concluded that although Britons are rich compared with most other countries, many suffer from an emotional poverty caused by consumerism and the breakdown of family life. “We are being seduced by an economic juggernaut and our personal needs are not being met,” said Nic Marks, a social sciences researcher at Surrey University who also worked on the report.