This is the question which is posed each year by Leger Marketing since 1977. The net index is calculated by subtracting the unhappy and indifferent votes from the happy votes to get a net index.
The three points which stuck me the most upon analysis were these:
Firstly, that those who didn’t believe in God or for whom religion didn’t matter scored the lowest levels of happiness, at 27% and 30% respectively. Those who scored highest were the traditional organized religions, ie: Catholics, Protestants and Jews scoring 65%, 66%,and 65% respectively. The other religions scored above 50% except for the orthodox Eastern rite Christians who only scored 40% happy. It is thus necessary to conclude that the sense of belonging and spiritual connection with a community does enhance one’s appreciation of life and thus level of happiness. Because of lower unhappy and indifferent votes these groups ranked higher on the index around 50%.
The Buddhists who are not considered a religion by themselves but are by others scored an even 50% with a 34% level of indifference lowering their index of happiness to 35%.
Unfortunately the survey didn’t pose the distinction between being religious and being spiritual. I would suspect that those who are spiritual would score highest on the ‘happiness scale’. The element of faith definitely enhances one’s hope and trust in a brighter future.
On the level of indifference to being either happy or unhappy the first group mentioned above, Catholics and Protestants scored lowest at approx. 20% while Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims scored mid-range at around 33-35% indifference. The highest range of indifference to happiness was found in the atheists or those who claimed to have no religion at 39%.
Secondly, the aspect of comprehension of the English language figured predominantly in the degree of happiness which people enjoyed, emphasizing individuals with a moderate to high degree of understanding and reading English scored between 62% to 55% or happiness, while those who scored lowest in comprehension scored between 44-49% happiness, still high compared to those who were indifferent. The ability to write English also recorded similar scores with those being able to write well having the highest degrees of happiness.
Thirdly, the global distribution of happy people with a greater concentration in Africa, and Latin America followed by a second group in Western Europe distances the relationship of economic wellbeing with happiness. Although it is true that some rich countries like Brazil scored high on the happiness scale, China scored lowest with only 41% of the population surveyed indicating that they were happy, however, with 41% being indifferent, the net index of happiness was lowered to 25%.
Lastly, some distinctions need mentioning: highest levels of happiness were in Fiji with 89%, while Nigeria and Ghana were in the 80% with Netherlands and Switzerland. Unfortunately Serbia ranked lowest in Europe with a next happiness index of only 8%.
Finally the unhappiest people in the world live in Egypt with a net index of “0” and Palestine with “1” are the most unhappy and indifferent individuals on the globe.
Have a Happy 2012.
Roger Fontaine, r.m.t. http://www.healingmassage.ca, http://www.pranichealing.ca