Canada ranks 23rd in World Happiness Survey


Would you believe Canadians rank 23rd in the world when it comes to happiness? That Afghans are cheerier than Americans? That the middle-aged are less happy than under-30s and seniors?

Such are the findings of the first annual global happiness poll by Leger Marketing, which polled about 1,000 people in each of 58 countries with help from similar firms around the world.

Despite a stormy political history of late, the South Pacific paradise of Fiji is the place to be and Romania is rock bottom as the only country to come out of the survey with a negative score on the happiness index.

Overall, economic storm clouds that have gathered around the globe appear not to have dampened spirits in most countries no matter the wide disparity in average incomes between places as diverse as Afghanistan and the U.S.

There’s not a lot of optimism about what’s coming up economically but we’re happy. Look at Japan, which has had quite a year with the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear troubles, but the human spirit is always looking for a way to lift up.

While Canada and Japan both scored 47 out of 100 points on a scale of “net happiness,” Canada had 60 per cent of respondents happy, 13 per cent unhappy and 28 per cent “neither happy nor unhappy” or didn’t know.

Compare that with 49 per cent happy in Japan, 2 per cent unhappy, 40 per cent neither happy nor unhappy and 9 per cent unsure.

The top five countries for happiness were Fiji at 85, Nigeria 84, Netherlands 77, Switzerland 76 and Ghana 72.

The bottom five were Romania with a score of negative-10, Egypt 0, Palestine 7, Serbia 8 and Lithuania 9. Any score above zero is good.

The survey found countries struggling hard to move up the economic ladder produce the biggest challenge, with a net happiness score of 25 per cent in China versus 55 per cent in Spain despite its debt crisis.

Other findings of note:

“ Afghanistan scored 35 per cent on the net happiness scale, versus 33 per cent for the U.S.

“ Globally, the middle-aged (51 to 65 years old), had a net happiness score of 33 per cent compared with 44 per cent for the under-30 set and 43 per cent for the over-65s.

“ In terms of religion, Catholics and Protestants were happiest at 54 per cent, with Jews at 50 per cent, Hindus at 43, Muslims at 42 per cent and Orthodox Christians at 28 per cent — just above the 27 per cent net happiness score for people with no religious belief system. This may reflect the fact many Orthodox Christians are in economically challenged Eastern Europe, Scholz said.

Interviews were conducted with 52,913 people globally, either face-to-face or by telephone in November and December with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Download Leger Marketing Global Barometer on Happiness for 2011 report


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James Chung

Founder & Editor in Chief of Hello Vancity magazine. Email [email protected]

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