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Transatlantic Ranking: Happiness

Americans are much happier than Germans and French, but less happy than Danes and Swedes, writes Robert J. Samuelson in the Washington Post:
The America of 2007 is far richer than the America of 1977. Life expectancy is 78 years, up from 74 years. Our homes are bigger and crammed with more paraphernalia (microwave ovens, personal computers, flat-panel TVs). But happiness is stuck.
In 1977, 35.7 percent of Americans rated themselves "very happy," 53.2 percent "pretty happy" and 11 percent "not too happy," reports the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In 2006, the figures are similar: 32.4 percent "very happy," 55.9 percent "pretty happy" and 11.7 percent "not too happy." Likewise, in most advanced countries, self-reported happiness has been flat for decades.
In international comparisons, the United States ranks lower in happiness than some smaller nations (Denmark, Ireland, Sweden) but much higher than many large countries with paternalistic welfare states (France, Germany, Italy). Governments can provide health care. But they cannot outlaw despair or mandate euphoria.
The Guardian:
Iceland is the leader in a league table judging the European country best able to give citizens a long and happy life. Estonia comes bottom of the 30-nation survey while the UK lurks below Romania, at number 21 in the chart.
The European Happy Planet Index used carbon efficiency, life satisfaction and life expectancy to rate the countries. The survey, published by the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth, reveals that Europe is now worse at creating well-being than it was 40 years ago.

A recent survey showed that vacation is a major factor for happiness in Germany, but apparently that does not make Germans happier than Americans. Or: Germans just don't want to admit how happy they are. Displaying happiness seems to be not all that popular in this country (Germany), while it is sort of mandatory to pursue happiness in the US. And you are a loser, if you are not happy...? That's probably an unfair, stereotypical assessment. What do you think, dear readers?


Atlantic Review on : Those Lazy Europeans

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Comparing vacation days in the US and Europe: "Europe heads to beach, Americans head to work," writes Reuters: Finland, followed by France, offers working people the most statutory vacation, at more than six weeks per year, the report, an intern


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David on :

Unhappiness is the natural state of the German soul. Heine realized this this when he wrote: [i]Das Glück ist eine leichte Dirne Und weilt nicht gern am selben Ort; Sie streicht das Haar dir von der Stirne, Und küßt dich rasch und flattert fort. Frau Unglück hat im Gegenteile Dich liebefest ans Herz gedrückt; Sie sagt, sie habe keine Eile, Setzt sich zu dir ans Bett und strickt.[/i] (Happiness is an easy wench and does not like to stay in one place; she strokes the hair back from your forehead, kisses you quickly and flutters off. Ms. Unhappiness on the other hand has lovingly pressed you to her breast; she says she's not in a hurry, sits herself down on your bed and knits.)

Volker on :

If the germans are one day truly happy, you can bet your ass that one day later the world ends.

Anonymous on :

Perhaps, Germans kevtch because they feel socially obligated to. On the other hand, many Americans are instructed that one complains only to your wife/girlfried, immediate kin and God; this puts the whole religiousity question in a new perspective, yes?

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