Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Happiest Place on Earth

Apparently an organization calling itself the New Economics Foundation has done a study concluding that the happiest place on earth is (wait for it)....Vanuatu. You know, that place featured on Survivor a couple of years ago? Anyway, according to the study, "People can live long, happy lives without using more than their fair share of the earth’s resources."

Oh, okay. Turns out that the New Economics Foundation "is a research group that organizes campaigns on environmental and economic issues such as debt relief. It was set up in 1986 to question the agenda of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations." Hmmm, not much of a chance that they’re going to identify any Western nation as particularly happy.

Over at Cato my old friend Will Wilkinson had something to say about this:

There is simply no non-crazy sense in which Vanuatu is the world’s happiest country. And there is no credible empirical reason for docking countries on any kind of index of human well-being for producing a lot of wealth. The evidence says that the happiness of poor populations like Vanuatu’s would skyrocket with swift economic growth. But growth is exactly what NEF is trying to limit. Their pseudo-study encourages us to be complacent about the poverty of Vanuatu, which is, after all, the “happiest” place on our “happy planet,” on the basis of the fact that they use almost no energy. If you really care about the well-being and happiness of the world’s poor, then agressively misleading publicity stunt studies like this one, and the people who author them, deserve nothing but our scorn.

UPDATE:Here is a link to the actual study. Curious what some of the other happy places are? Well, also in the top twenty are Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. So that’s why all those people are emigrating from America to those places!

Discussions - 3 Comments

Hmmm, no doubt the runners-up for the contest were Laos, Burundi, and Burkina Faso. Or maybe Cuba, North Korea, and Zimbabwe. Folks don’t need much to be happy in those places, so they say.
Well, I will belive people like the ones at the New Economics Foundation when they start moving to places like Vanuatu, and adopt the appropriate lifestyle.

This is silly (and could have serious negative effects). As Wilkinson eluded to, if we all accept that Vanuatu is the "happiest place on earth" then we have no reason to help them out of poverty. I have no reason to donate any money to their economy in order to help supply them with food or medical care or education.

Sure, money alone can’t bring true happiness (in my opinion) and lots of problems accompany industrialization, but I think there are some serious benefits to it that the "New Economics Foundation" overlooks.

So silly.


Ooops! Did we say the happiest place on Earth was Vanuatu? We meant "Xanadu"! Sorry--our bad.


The New Economics Foundation

ps; can you loan us a twenty until payday--what is a "payday", anyway?

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