For years I've been reading Bhutan is the happiest country on earth, or at least one of them. The new 2021 annual global happiness study-- the year of pandemic-- doesn't include Bhutan among the 149 countries studied. Other countries left out include mostly severely unhappy ones, like Somalia, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, North Korea, Congo, Angola...
A perfect score would be 8.0. Closest to that is Finland (7.8). The other happy counties (7.0 and above):
New Zealand- 7.3
Costa Rica- 7.1
The least happiest country, for obvious reasons, is Afghanistan (2.5). These are the other miserable counties surveyed (under 5.0):
Sierra Leone- 3.8
Sri Lanka- 4.3
Burkina Faso- 4.8
The study goes beyond just people in rich countries are happy and people in poor countries aren't. They definitely used GDP per capita in their calculations-- as well as life expectancy at birth, social support, freedom to make life choices, generosity and positive or negative affects (which covers the pandemic experience, including exacerbating mental health risks and each country’s response to the crisis.
Iman Ghosh wrote that meaning happiness is a "deceptively complex question... It’s generally understood that having enough money to cover your needs and wants can help you live a relatively happy, comfortable life-- and recent research shows this relationship may increase linearly as income levels grow, as well. However, there’s much more to it than that. Happiness levels depend not just on financial security, but also broader perceptions of one’s social support, personal freedom, and more."
Finland is the happiest country in the survey, "influenced," wrote Ghosh, "by high levels of trust in the way the COVID-19 pandemic was handled." Ukraine is the opposite in Europe with conflicts continuing to cause "stress on its politics, security, and economy. In particular, government corruption remains a big public issue."
As examples of how the survey worked out in various countries and regions, Ghosh notes that "Haiti continues to fare poorly as the unhappiest in [North America], with an average annual GDP growth of only 1.3% over 20 years. Its weak economy and political instability have been worsened by the pandemic-- setting back efforts to reduce poverty and widening inequality. The opposite is Uruguay. "With the largest middle class in the Americas-- 60% of its population-- and a miniscule 0.1% extreme poverty rate, Uruguay is the happiest South American country. The nation has also achieved equitable access to basic services, from education to electricity."
"The trio of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela," she wrote, "are experiencing different stages of progress in happiness levels, but their relationship is very much interdependent. Venezuela and Ecuador face similar economic challenges and sharp declines in oil prices. Venezuela is additionally acutely affected by socio-political unrest, triggering a mass exodus of citizens to Ecuador and Colombia alike. The silver lining is that the influx of highly-educated Venezuelan migrants may provide a 2% boost to Ecuador’s GDP. Colombia, the most improved country, has halved its poverty rate in the last decade. In addition, it has welcomed almost 2 million Venezuelan migrants as of Dec 2020-- and plans to provide them up to 10 years of protective status."
Last year Wallethub ranked each American state for happiness in the midst of the pandemic. They attempted to measure overall well-being and satisfaction with life, assuming that good economic, emotional, physical and social health are all key to a well-balanced and fulfilled life. All the really miserable states, as you can probably guess, are backward Trumpist hellholes, states filled with the kinds of people who take QAnon's insane conspiracy theories to heart and build a life around them. These are miserable people with worthless lives they are eager to inflict on the rest of us. These states all rate 40 and under on the scale. The numbers in parenthesis are Trump's 2020 electoral score):
West Virginia- 30.58 (%)
Arkansas- 36.83 (62.40%)
Oklahoma- 37.66 (65.37%)
Lousiana- 38.15 (58.46%)
Kentucky- 38.29 (62.09%)
Tennessee- 39.21 (60.66%)
Mississippi- 39.52 (57.60%)
Alabama- 40.28 (62.03%)
Alaska- 40.85 (52.83%)
The half dozen "happiest" states in the U.S. are mostly anti-Trump, anti-QAnon states:
Hawaii- 69.58 (34.27%)
Utah- 69.42 (58.13%)
Minnesota- 65.87 (45.28%)
New Jersey- 64.10 (41.40%)
Maryland- 61.78 (32.15%)
California- 61.14 (34.32%)