Remember last June how shocked almost everyone was when Britons voted to leave the European Union?
By the usual measurements of economic growth (2%), unemployment (down to 4.9%) and standard poll questions on intent, professionals and many others were pretty certain the United Kingdom would decide to remain in the EU that it fought so long and hard to enter.
Turns out, if media had measured “Happiness,” they’d have recognized the historic looming Brexit upheaval. Same for anticipating the Arab Spring.
In the 24 months preceding last June’s vote, Gallup found the number of British people who rated themselves happy, thriving, satisfied with life experienced a dramatic 15-point drop, among the largest two-year plunges in the polling history of Gallup’s global tracking.
The so-called Happiness Ranking comes from one question within Gallup’s World Poll, a massive survey in 150 countries. That question asks respondents to rate their life on a scale of 0 (worst ever) to 10 (the best Charlie Brown Snoopy happy life).
According to the latest findings, the worst possible lives occur in the Central African Republic (2.6), Burundi (2.9), Tanzania (3.3) and perhaps predictably, war-torn Syria (3.4).
The happiest possible lives also predictably occur in Scandinavia — Norway (7.53) and Denmark (7.52), followed by, you guessed it, Iceland (7.5), Switzerland (7.49), Finland (7.47) and Netherlands (7.46).
Canada is the happiest Commonwealth country at 7.3, ahead of Australia (7.28), poor unhappy South Africa (4.8), India (4.3) and even Sweden (also at 7.28).
Israel, Costa Rica and Austria count themselves as happier than Americans, who come in No. 14 at 6.9. No doubt that number will improve now that the the eight fractious years of Obama’s terms and the strident 2016 election campaign are over and the country has settled down so peacefully into the presidency of Donald Trump. (Who, by the way, was all for Brexit.)
The rest of the list is also interesting. Saudi Arabians (6.3) are happier than Italians (5.9). Iranians (4.7) are happier than Iraqis (4.5). Afghanis (3.8) are happier than Yemenis (3.6).
If you’re like me, you get regular missives from lawyers in Burkina Faso who share the sad story of their client, a dying widow. The good news, however, is she has chosen me, of all people, to inherit her late husband’s vast fortune — if only I send over a few thousand dollars to facilitate the bank transfer.
Naturally as a kind, generous American, I intended to do that. But Gallup reports that Burkina Fasoans are not a very happy people (4.0). So, out of the goodness of my heart, I’ve instructed those lawyers to just give away my unexpected inheritance to deserving people there, maybe get that Happiness number up closer to 5.