Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Happiness Correlates Hold in Non-Rich Countries, Too

Getting richer doesn't make you happier above the average income. Chronic health problems make you unhappy. Unemployment makes you unhappy. Divorce makes you unhappy. These are strong findings from across the rich countries of the world.

Carol Graham, in Happiness Around the World, added her own study of Latin America, Russia, and Afghanistan, and collected other studies of sub-Saharan Africa. The result: the same relationships hold in middle-income and poor countries, too.

The happiest people were sub-Saharan Africans, among the poorest people on earth. Their absolute wealth is low, but personal happiness is tied more to having enough to live, and then having good family and friend relationships.

1 comment:

Black Sea said...

Interestingly, I saw recently on the web that Colombia, of all places, ranks quite high on the happiness index. I guess political turmoil, a cocaine-funded civil war, and the ever-present threat of kidnapping don't put much of a dent in day-to-day happiness, or maybe even add a certain zest to living.

One of the best comments I ever heard on the relationship between money and happiness was voiced by Michale Crichton. He was asked by Charlie Rose how all the money he'd earned had changed his life. He answered that when he'd been a medical student at Harvard he'd been pretty poor (I guess he meant by Ivy League standards) and what he'd concluded was that there was a lot of difference between not enough money and enough, but very little difference between enough money and more than enough.