Capitalism = Happiness?

The situation may not be as simple as “Living Under Capitalism = Being Happier” but a new article in New Scientist called “Wealthy Nations Hold the Key to Happiness” suggests that such a conclusion is not far from the truth.

The “Map of World Happiness” below sums it up pretty well. Red indicates happiness. Yellow indicates unhappiness.

world-happiness.jpg

From the article:

According to the analysis, a countryâ??s happiness is closely related to its wealth, along with the health and education levels of its people. It is no surprise that people spending heavily on healthcare, such as US citizens, rank highly, says White, as this investment increases life expectancy and general wellbeing.

“There is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people,” he says. “However, when people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher [earnings] per capita, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.”

Many thanks to friend and political-happiness scholar Will Wilkinson for calling this new article to our attention.

This certainly adds an interesting twist to the “Materialism = Unhappiness” equation that we hear advanced a lot, implicitly or otherwise, in American Buddhist and leftist circles.

Here is an interesting tidbit:

Countries that rank in the top 20 in both Whiteâ??s list and the Happy Planet Index â?? presumably very happy places indeed â?? are Costa Rica, Bhutan and Antigua and Barbuda.

I wonder what these countries have going for them.