Australia the happiest country; America comes in at No. 6

Published: Wednesday, May 29 2013 11:51 p.m. MDT

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
When it comes to being happy, Australians are ahead of the residents in every other industrialized nation, for the third straight year. The annual ranking puts Americans at No. 6 on the glad-about-it scale. The annual Better Life Index is created by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It bases its ranking on housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. The list doesn't weight them but treats those factors as equal.

It didn't actually name a No. 1, but its cumulative rank put Australia at the top, the OECD said, just ahead of Sweden and Canada.

One of the reasons it builds the list that way is so anyone looking at the countries can plug in those factors he or she considers important and come up with an idea of how they would rank based on the factors considered valuable.

Wrote the Wall Street Journal, "Australia's high rank in the OECD index — based on data from the United Nations, individual governments and other sources — is largely due to its economy. The nation mostly sidestepped the economic woes afflicting much of the developed world after the financial crisis and has expanded for 21 years straight without a recession. Unemployment stood at 5.5 percent in April, from 5.6 percent in March, compared with 12.1 percent in the euro zone."

"There is no one under the age of 40 now who has experienced a recession as an adult member of the work force," Saul Eslake, economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in Sydney, told the Journal's Enda Curran.

Still, the article noted that consumer confidence isn't great in Australia and "households blame the poor mood on a rising cost of living, an unpopular government and growing signs a long mining boom is nearing an end."

The index summary said that it "currently profiles the 34 OECD partner countries as well as key partners Brazil and Russia across the 11 topics of well-being, and will eventually include other key OECD partner countries (China, India, Indonesia and South Africa), representing the world's major economies. The index contains an overall description of the quality of life in each country, followed by its performance across the 24 individual indicators that make up the 11 topics of well-being. The index also lets you see how life compares for men and women, and for those at the top and bottom of the social and economic ladder."

The United States scored particularly well with income; its average household net-adjusted disposable income is $38,001, compared to Australia's $28,884. The average in the indexed countries is $23,047. They're all calculated in U.S. dollars.

Of Americans 15 to 64, 67 percent work for pay (the average among the countries is 66 percent). Americans work 1,787 hours a year, compared to the average of 1,776. Americans are also well educated, with 89 percent having a high school or equivalent degree, while the average is 74 percent.

Americans score 7.5 on life satisfaction, compared to 8.1 for Australians, who led the scoring for safety, civic management, health and environment. The United States bested the Aussies for housing and income and barely edged them out for work-life balance.
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The Australian immigrant that I knew here in Utah was of course very happy,'no worries' was his saying. But...

Being happy while doing things that will cause a divorce still means a divorce .. so he was divorced and he had to leave town so his creditors could not catch up to him......I'm sure that he still thinks he is happy..
"no worries"

newhall, CA

US ranked sixth? I'm shocked. The US should be ranked near the bottom. One look at the current administration should make anyone with half a brain unhappy and depressed.

BYU Fan in DC
Washington, DC

This measuring tools do not depict everyones version of happiness. All these countries are predominantly white, so maybe the metrics that are being selected are also determined my a homogeneously white groups of researchers. I guess happiness to them is linked to having money, education, and length of life. But, what does happiness look like for a simple farmer in a rural part of Africa? Maybe that study should be done next...

Roosevelt, UT

The USA is happy about life because we get to keep our guns. Even though we are not at war the guns kill more people in Utah than do cars?

Sg wants people to be sad about the current administation? Talk about living in the past. Why not figure a way to fix the problems? The country did not elect a president whose plan was to increase the national deficit by 25% (according to Allan Greenspan). So we got a break thereCollin Powell once considered to be a potential GOP presidential cnadidate said he could not vote for Romney as the same group of advisors who insisted Pres Bush take USA and go into Iraq after Saddam were again working with the contender Romney.

Instead of being worse off financially or back into a war we have an administration that is allowing the country to get back to work. They have implemented a program to help the medical crisis in the country.

Every day 5-8 people die in Chicago due to lack of healthcare. Over 2000 people each year, you would think this was a third world country.

USA still needs help with medical costs and education.

San Diego, CA

"All these countries are predominantly white" Do non-white make up the 'unhappy' people?

Both Australia and Canada have higher levels of immigration percentage wise than the US, mostly from Eastern Asia and India/Pakistan.

Also if they'd use another measure rather than the US dollar, like a combination of bread, milk and veggies, as Harvard did a few years back, then disposable income is actually higher in those countries... both of which have free government paid health care as a safety net, plus a private for profit health system. But US citizens apparently have to be happier paying fortunes for healthcare.

Nana of 13
Enoch, Ut

Well I am from Australia and currently live in the USA. When I make trips home I find that my Aussies brothers and sisters work to live not live to work. It is always interesting to me after 5pm in downtown Sydney you see all these pubs with outdoor seating, and all the workers sitting there having a pint of ale or whatever, laughing, enjoying life.Aussies are much more laid back and not so intense on making a buck.Now no rock throwing please, by the same token, I am so happy I raised all five of our children in America and now our 14 grandkids are being raised here. I am a US citizen by choice.Though I loved the laid back attitude of my homeland, I also loved the opportunities my children,received in this country. My nieces and nephews in Oz are very well educated but once done with that, living life is more important than building a mansion. As in most places,there are good things and not so good things in both countries. I could be happy either place.Both are #1 in my opinion.

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