Brokest European Countries Are Also The Saddest

Italy Happy CelebrationHappier times.

Photo: Sam Javanrouh / flickr

While happiness may not be one of the most scientific measures of how well a country is doing, it is a pretty practical indicator of how good, or not, life in a particular country is. Major survey and poll company Gallup appears to agree – hence its 2011 survey.

It could also be argued that how happy the population of a country is, reflects how well the nation in question is being governed.

Gallup published a kind of world “happiness” ranking a little earlier this year, and it makes for interesting reading. 

The results also take into account what people feel about their prospects for the future.

The happiness ranking groups the populations of 124 of world’s 196 countries into three distinct categories:

  • Thriving
  • Struggling
  • Suffering

Personally, I would have added a forth category: OK.  After all, there’s quite a gap between Thriving and Struggling and it is possible that those who are doing OK would have classified themselves in the “Struggling” category, which may have skewed the results somewhat.

People who are thriving are likely to be pretty happy with life and feel that their country is treating them well.  On the other hand, if individuals are struggling, or worse, suffering, then they are unlikely to be feeling all that content.

How Happy is Italy?
According to the Gallup happiness survey, as I shall call it, 37% of Italians are thriving, and, therefore, are happy.

56% of Italians think they are struggling to make ends meet, which is not too good, and 7% of Italians feel they are suffering.

Overall, Italy is the 32nd happiest country in the world, so it looks as if Italy’s government “could do better”.

What about the some of the other nations in Europe?
In the main, the Gallup survey data was collected during early and late 2010.

Denmark:        Thriving: 72%  Struggling: 54%  Suffering: 4% – 1st position.

Netherlands:   Thriving: 62%  Struggling: 36%  Suffering: 2% – 9th position.

Ireland:            Thriving: 62%  Struggling: 36%  Suffering: 3% – 9th position.

Austria:            Thriving: 58%  Struggling: 39%  Suffering: 3% – 13th position.

UK:                    Thriving: 54%  Struggling: 42%  Suffering: 4% – 17th position.

Germany:         Thriving: 44%  Struggling: 51%  Suffering: 5% – 24th position.

Belgium:          Thriving: 43%  Struggling: 54%  Suffering: 3% – 24th position.

France:             Thriving: 42%  Struggling: 54%  Suffering: 4% – 28th position.

Italy:                 Thriving: 37%  Struggling: 56%  Suffering: 7% – 32nd position.

Spain:               Thriving: 34%  Struggling: 57%  Suffering: 8% – 37th position.

Greece:             Thriving: 21%  Struggling: 61%  Suffering: 19% – 62nd position.

Plus, out of interest:

Canada:          Thriving: 69%  Struggling: 30%  Suffering: 2% – 3rd position.

USA:               Thriving: 42%  Struggling: 54%  Suffering: 4% – 12th position.

Japan:            Thriving: 26%  Struggling: 63%  Suffering: 12% – 54th position.

Russia:           Thriving: 24%  Struggling: 61%  Suffering: 15% – 58th position.

India:              Thriving: 17%  Struggling: 64%  Suffering: 19% – 71st position.

India:              Thriving: 12%  Struggling: 71%  Suffering: 17% – 92nd position.

And, how happy do war torn Libya’s  population feel:

Libya:            Thriving: 14%  Struggling: 78%  Suffering: 8% – 78th position.

As you will have noted, Libya is not one of the happiest countries in the world despite a certain Colonel Gaddafi’s claims that he is a great leader.

Small is Beautiful, and Happy
There seems to be a correlation between high levels of national happiness and nations with smaller populations.

Outwardly, the United States appears to be an exception to this rule, until, that is, you realise that the USA is virtually a series of smaller nations – which go by the name of States.  It looks as if federal government is the way to go.

As for Italy, it will be interesting to see the results of the Gallup surveys for 2011 and for 2012 – after the effects of the austerity measures, which are being hastily cobbled together up as I write this, are known.

What do you think?
Are surveys like this worthwhile? Do any of the results surprise you?

How would you classify yourself – taking into account what you think the future holds?

Here are the complete results of the 2011 Gallup World Wellbeing survey.

This post originally appeared at The Italy Chronicles.

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