2006 July 30 Sunday
Affluent Homogeneous Small Countries Happiest

Denmark is happiest. Next come Switzerland, Austria, and Iceland. Yet more evidence that the people who push for multiculturalism and ethnic diversity are either morons or malicious: Denmark and similar countries have the happiness populations.

A University of Leicester psychologist has produced the first ever ‘world map of happiness.’

Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist at the University’s School of Psychology, analysed data published by UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the WHO, the Veenhoven Database, the Latinbarometer, the Afrobarometer, and the UNHDR, to create a global projection of subjective well-being: the first world map of happiness.

The projection, which is to be published in a psychology journal this September, will be presented at a conference later in the year. Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.

Small affluent homogeneous countries make for greater happiness.

"I think there is a parallel between the state of a nation and an individual. If you are very depressed, you are less likely to go out and be ambitious which obviously impacts on the economy, creating a vicious circle of poverty and depression.

"Scandinavian countries have done so well firstly because they are rich with good healthcare and education systems. They also have a sense of collectivity and community because of a strong national identity. Bigger countries are often more fragmented and people there may not feel they are making so much of a difference. While not such a big indicator of happiness, this is also a factor.

"We also found that living in beautiful rural areas increased happiness by a small factor. However countries in Africa are very beautiful but more important factors there that reduce happiness are people dying of preventable diseases and war."

My guess is nationalized health care is not making people happier by keeping them healthier. My guess is that availability of government-provided health care make people feel more secure and that it is this feeling of security rather than objective services provided that causes an increase in happiness. People want security.

Immigration can contribute to lower average levels of happiness in a number of of ways. For example, it makes a population larger and therefore makes each person less important and less influential to the whole. Also, with ethnic diversity comes less trust and less commonly held values. A population that is more diverse in values about how a society should be organised is one where far fewer are likely to be satisfied about the rules and about what governments do and require.

Note that higher IQ enables the affluence needed for high quality health care. Also, a smarter population can become more educated. So a country's level of average intelligence plays a big role in determining how happy its populace will be. Also, an ethnically more diverse country will have a wider distribution of levels of intelligence. Part of the decreased happiness in ethnically more diverse nations may flow from having larger populations of lower IQ groups.

Going back to the first link above, note how many small and ethnically non-diverse countries come out on top in happiness:

The 20 happiest nations in the World are:

1 - Denmark
2 - Switzerland
3 - Austria
4 - Iceland
5 - The Bahamas
6 - Finland
7 - Sweden
8 - Bhutan
9 - Brunei
10 - Canada
11 - Ireland
12 - Luxembourg
13 - Costa Rica
14 - Malta
15 - The Netherlands
16 - Antigua and Barbuda
17 - Malaysia
18 - New Zealand
19 - Norway
20 - The Seychelles

Other notable results include:

23 - USA
35 - Germany
41 - UK
62 - France
82 - China
90 - Japan
125 - India
167 - Russia

The three least happy countries were:

176 - Democratic Republic of the Congo
177 - Zimbabwe
178 - Burundi

Some of the European welfare states rank incredibly high in happiness. How could anything less than a pure laissez fair libertarian free market utopia produce such a high level of happiness? Surely we can not suppose conventional free market economists are promoting theories based on wrong assumptions about human nature. Banish that thought. Keep the homo economicus faith.

One big puzzler here is ethnically homogeneous and affluent Japan. China's low ranking seems less difficult to explain given the rapid rate of change there and the feellings of insecurity that must cause. Also, China still has extensive poverty and the impoverished feel even worse when they look around and see others who are doing far better than them.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 July 30 10:43 PM  Human Nature

Your Image Here said at July 31, 2006 1:16 AM:

I found it interesting that Japan is listed WAY down on these ranks.
Intelligent? Who can doubt THAT of the Japanese?
Homogenous? I'd say 98% of those currently living in Japan are Japanese (and it is next to impossible to immigrate there)
Socialized health care? The Japanese have THAT as well.
I think you underestimate the effects of rural (or non-dense urban) life. The Japanese pretty much live their lives like the proverbial sardines in a sardine can. I would not be happy with such a lifestyle.
In American terms, think of NYC. Half of New York State's population lives in that one city. Would I consider most residents of NYC happy? Would you?

Omer K said at July 31, 2006 4:36 AM:

While I agree that some countries are probably happier than others, and also that homogenous (and small) countries are likelier to be happy... I still would not put much faith in those country rankings of happiness.

One should look at the formula used to derive that happines score.

Look at http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2006/07/the_joy_of_obli.html

which goes into the question. According to the criteria used, a country with low impact on the environment is "happier". Blatant liberalism masquerading as social science.

Maybe thats why japan scored so low? Does that sound like a reasonable assumption to score a country low? Not in my book.

Dave said at July 31, 2006 8:47 AM:

One thing with Japan though is the rapidly ageing population, that can make people less happy, maybe I'm wrong but I have always felt vibrant families with a lot of kids running around more happy than one with very few young people. I think the leftist femnazis got this all wrong and when the large amount of British childless women grow older they are going to feel a lot of sadness about the families they never had.

One thing with the very small countries though is that democracy works better. Its easier because there are generally less constrasting views, than with a huge nation. Infact I think there is a question over whether a really huge nation can really be a democracy because any representation is going to be such a big compromise very few people actually get what they really want.

crush41 said at July 31, 2006 12:40 PM:

Wow, the formula is muddled. It appears that the results are in part taken from the "Happy Planet Index" which bases happiness on 'environmental efficiency' and 'environmental impact' (neither of which I can find formulas for). It's worth noting that the happiest planet countries are found in Central America, and the study was published in cooperation with the 'Friends of the Earth' foundation. Hmm.

In the link provided, it describes the index thus:

Participants in the various studies were asked questions related to happiness and satisfaction with life. The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.

Whatever that means. Seems impossible to duplicate.

Googling "Satisfaction with life index" brings up lots of links to this elementary survey, though Randall's link says that Satisfaction with life index is calculated from data published by the New Economics Foundation (the group in concert with the Friends of the Earth mentioned above). Again, I don't see anything definitive on how the rankings were calculated (it mentions that Adrian White analyzed data from several sources, but nothing on what the data was and it's not made clear in what way the surveys are related to CIA data, etc).

I'm too bemused to make much of this. It appears at a glance that 'happiness' is related to economic stagnation. Notice that countries with the most economic growth appear to be the least happy.

crush41 said at July 31, 2006 12:51 PM:

Further, Adrian White homepage accesses a survey entitled "National Environment and Personality Survey" that asks questions about personal water conservation, etc. Not that resource profligacy is good, nor to impugn integrity, but with the happiness rankings being so muddled, the author so apparently green, and countries without economic growth being so championed, it's tough not to be skeptical.

Half Sigma said at July 31, 2006 1:59 PM:

Marriage makes people happier. So does sex. In Japan people are doing neither.

Randall Parker said at July 31, 2006 3:06 PM:

Omer K,

Two recent studies came out with happiness rankings. I think Adrian White used data from many sources including the foundation that published the other set of rankings. That other survey did not put Denmark at the top.

So I think you have gone off on a tangent.

crush41 said at July 31, 2006 3:27 PM:

It would be nice if he made that clear.

Randall Parker said at July 31, 2006 3:47 PM:

To drive home the point of just how different are these two studies: The New Economics Foundation 'Happy Planet Index' study put Vanuatu at the top:

The NEF's 'Happy Planet Index,' which was launched for the first time last week, seeks to move beyond the usual country ratings based on national income, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to produce a picture of the progress of nations based on the amount of resources they use, and the length and happiness of people’s lives.

The Happy Planet Index covers 178 countries by multiplying life expectancy by life satisfaction, and dividing it by environmental impact in each country, including carbon emissions.


Following Vanuatu in the top five were Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama. By contrast, the highest ranked G8 country is Italy at 66th in the index. Germany is 81st, Japan 95th, the United Kingdom 108th, Canada 111th, France 129th, the United States 150th, and Russia 172nd.

I read about that study a couple of weeks ago and almost wrote a post about it. But I usually avoid posting on studies that are obviously just propaganda. By contrast, White's study seems a relatively more sincere attempt to measure happiness. Not saying it is perfect. Still, seems insightful.

You can read more about the Happy Planet Index if you are interested. But it strikes me as an enviro nut job Orwellian ranking system.

agnostic said at July 31, 2006 5:58 PM:

They clearly didn't take group differences in personality traits into account. High extraversion (outgoing, social butterfly type) and low Neuroticism (emotionally stable type) are involved with greater positive & lower negative feelings, respectively. To make it clear, here's the rank of 5 East Asian countries on the Satisfaction With Life, Health, GDP, and Ed:


SWL 82nd
Health 75th
GDP 84th
Ed 77th

Hong Kong

SWL 63rd
Health 2nd
GDP 10th
Ed ?


SWL 90th
Health 1st
GDP 14th
Ed 17th


SWL 53rd
Health 17th
GDP 23rd
Ed ?

South Korea

SWL 103rd
Health 33rd
GDP 33rd
Ed 26th


SWL 68th
Health 37th
GDP 24th
Ed ?

China's a bit of an outlier of the group, for obvious reasons. But the other countries score, not just so-so, but damn near the top in all the other measures, yet are not particularly happy folks. Obvious explanation: a race of neurotic, introverts doesn't make for maximum merriment. (I'm 1/4 Japanese, so no slander intended, not that the readers here would accuse me of it...). Suicide's still a problem in Japan, and is related more to anxiety / depression -- which are probably extremes on normal personality traits -- than to IQ. The Scandinavians aren't known for high Extraversion, so again it's probably an Extraversion by Neuroticism effect -- if a country has higher avg Neuroticism & lower avg Extraversion (Japan?), it'll have more depressed or unsatisfied people; whereas if it's low on avg Extraversion but also low on Neuroticism (Denmark?), the people will appear just mellow and content, if somewhat shy -- not discontent. Of course, other things being equal (homogenous population, highish IQ, good health care, etc.).

rtove said at July 31, 2006 6:12 PM:

Well, socialist poster-region Scandinavia is happiest. And of course, Mexicans are only slightly worse off than Americans (25% worse off, I think, if you believe what you read from Euro-zone researchers who don't like the US much). I have to put happiness research into the same basket as bioethics, essentially areas where strongly held opinion is dressed up as some kind of logic or science. What the flowering of the field of happiness economics shows, though, is that everyone has given up justifying Euro policy as producing more of anything tangible and now the policy is justified based on opinion surveys, which are "interpreted" until researcher predilections are "proved". If US productivity continues to power forward, though, researchers are going to have to take a further step back and maybe just admit that they personally like the policies and there is no economic or happiness oriented way of justifying them. In the mean time, pundits can maximize their importance by promoting the idea that the free economy can't be trusted and must be modified to properly engineer happiness.

And with this last thought in mind, I should probably add that simply because there are some knee-jerk "market fundamentalists" out there as well as self interested companies which do not act like our friends (but like the other side of our transactions), doesn't mean that casual dismissals of market capitalism are correct. I've listened to George Soros as well as futurepundit, et al. and I haven't yet heard a single anti-market idea that adds up. For starters, working people are not worse off after years and years of low skill immigration, manufacturing outsourcing, etc.

rtove said at July 31, 2006 6:16 PM:

Asian nations may score low because the researchers in Europe decided that people there weren't likely to be very happy.

Randall Parker said at July 31, 2006 6:19 PM:


Certainly international comparisons of happiness are more useful for ranking happiness of genetically similar people under different conditions. We can certainly conclude that Danes are better off living around Danes than around people of other races.

I'd like to see the happiness info of multiracial countries broken out by race and also further adjustment for whether people live in more or less racially homogeneous areas of each country.


Lower IQ people are worse off from immigration of lower IQ people into their midsts.

Also, if whites in LA were not worse off from Hispanic immigration then why did most whites leave LA? You think LA would have shrunk in population if the Hispanics had been kept out?

rtove said at July 31, 2006 7:01 PM:

I agree with you on homogeneity and limiting low IQ immigration. I think the journal position is foolish. beyond that, I challenge you to produce a topical example of how we would be better off, on balance, by manipulating or correcting market capitalism. I think your feelings go beyond patent, antitrust, and environmental law, etc. You seem to have the view that regulation beyond what has already evolved is necessary. This is a bit off the subject, so perhaps the next time you make an anti-market remark or post you can go into more detail. Something beyond just dismissal of market fools. Anytime a person has some justification for superior feelings, it is a foundation for a faulty view.

Also, in these happiness studies, there is no discussion of tempremental differences between peoples. If you dismiss Mancur Olson and play up all sorts of genetically grounded ethnic differences, it seems like you should only be convinced of happiness differences by a study comparing say, Danes living at home vs. abroad, or Americans of Danish descent vs. actual Danes. Emotions are so elemental, why would they reflect policy more than physiology. I know an immigrant Dane who ditched Denmark and is making like $300k per year here in America. He is just out of this world happy. His parents back home struggle with some of the typical meager pensioner issues.

Randall Parker said at July 31, 2006 7:16 PM:


My sentiment is anti-unrealistic models of human nature. Economists build their models using wrong assumptions about human nature. I poke at them for this reason.

Whether we would be better off manipulating or correcting market capitalism depends on how you define market capitalism. I think we'd be better off restricting immigration. That's a restriction on the labor market. Is that restriction a manipulation or correction of market capitalism?

The immigrant Dane who makes $300k is an exception. The vast bulk of Danes would not make that much if they came here.

Policy versus physiology: Part of the reason Danes are more happy is that they are around other Danes. That isn't so much a genetic advantage for happiness due to some happiness gene as it is a very widespread human desire to be around people like oneself and to trust and feel more comfortable around people like oneself.

Yes, of course there are temperamental differences between peoples. Yes, of course these studies do not mention this.

I do not get this sentence:

Anytime a person has some justification for superior feelings, it is a foundation for a faulty view.

So if I feel superior to someone else I'm automatically wrong?

Bob Badour said at July 31, 2006 7:44 PM:

I don't get why folks are acting surprized about Japan. Unlike the top countries by happiness, Japan is not a small country. It is large and crowded by the figures that really count. (Figures below from CIA World Factbook)

country     population  land area            density
                (millions)   (1000 sq. km)    (pop. / sq. km)
japan            127.5      374.7                   340
denmark           5.5        42.4                   129
switzerland       7.5        39.8                   189
austria             8.2        82.4                    99
iceland              .3       100.3                     3
bahamas            .3        10.1                    30
finland             5.2       304.5                    17
sweden            9.0       410.9                    22

Japan stands out as a much larger country than the next closest in terms of population (Sweden) or population density (Switzerland) when compared against the top few countries listed for happiness.

FightHardOrGetOut said at July 31, 2006 7:46 PM:

I'm not sure about thiss ranking. Lots of subjectvity goes into it.

On another hand rates of suicide are much more solid, especially in civilized (West + Japan) world.
Rates for three happiest countries from WHO data at
are (rates per 100,000, first number is males, second females):

DENMARK 20.2 7.2
AUSTRIA 27.1 9.3

US is doing much better:

Randall Parker said at July 31, 2006 8:32 PM:


Northern Europe has darker and colder winters than most of the United States. That boosts seasonal depression. Suicides are, what, per 100,000? So those numbers represent an awfully small sliver of each population. Not everyone is prone to depression because of weather. But I know people who are.

Anyone know a source for suicide info by race and region in America? Or by time of year?

Ned said at August 1, 2006 6:48 AM:

The thing that strikes me about the "happy countries" list is that they are all relatively small in population (I think Canada is the largest, followed by Malaysia). Most are small in area, too, with Canada being the major exception. Most are fairly homogeneous, but some (Canada, Malaysia, Switzerland) are not. Look at some of the "happy" countries in Europe - Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands - their larger neighbors (Germany and France) are much less happy, even though conditions in all these nations are about the same. Does small size predispose to happiness? Homogeneity probably helps but is not an absolute requirement.

rtove said at August 1, 2006 3:14 PM:

Superior feelings are a foundation for a faulty view. They don't necessarily mean you construct a faulty view, but they do present an ego oriented motivation for constructing one. I would guess that most of the time views become at least somewhat biased when an ego interest (such as the pleasure of condescending to market fundamentalists) exists. Superior feelings can cause people to hold false views strongly. Liberal condescension, feeling that you "got it" when others didn't during the internet craze, and false conspiracy theories demonstrating the insight of the theorist, are garden variety examples. However, positions/ideas of more sophisticated thinkers are also susceptible to this bias. The fact is that rational thinking can't be fully separated from the natural imperatives of ego, and ideas are often vehicles for self esteem (rather than reflections of truth).

"I agree with you on homogeneity and low IQ immigration. Beyond that, I challenge you to produce one example..." suggesting a need for correction of "market capitalism" as it has evolved in the U.S.

With respect to Euro personal economic security increasing happiness more than it subtracts happiness by reducing incomes, the reflex seems to be to assume that different policies play the largest role in measured happiness differences. We agree genetically based temperment is a factor, and I would guess that it plays a very significant role, at least after people have achieved developed world comfort levels. (By the way, Denmark does have a welfare muslim problem, and they are still pleased as punch as we all now know). There are also cultural factors such as politeness (higher in Copenhagen than New York) which are non-policy. The study author White said "there is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people." White apparently doesn't embrace this view, yet this idea is part of the backdrop for a clodged together (i.e. maximum subjectivity) meta analysis (of studies by UNESCO, the WHO, something called the New Economics Foundation, etc.) performed by presumably mildly anti-US psychology academics in England. True devil's advocacy on the part of parapundit.

Happiness researchers used to claim that we will be about equally happy regardless of circumstances (therefore, redistribute our money and we'll feel fine); it also now suggests that different circumstances, particularly Scandinavian Euro-policy, can produce more happiness (therefore, redistribute our money and we'll feel fine). The one certainty is that your money will be redistributed. Post on this again when University of Chicago economists join the chorus.

RueHaxo said at August 1, 2006 7:38 PM:

Dave said:
"One thing with the very small countries though is that democracy works better. Its easier because there are generally less constrasting views, than with a huge nation. Infact I think there is a question over whether a really huge nation can really be a democracy because any representation is going to be such a big compromise very few people actually get what they really want."

That's a very good point. I hate to say it because I was raised a patriotic American, but I'm thinking more and more the 50 states of the US union should split into a few confederations. I'm really starting to think the US has become to big to be both democratic and efficient.

(Vicente) Fox Hound said at August 2, 2006 1:08 PM:

"That's a very good point. I hate to say it because I was raised a patriotic American, but I'm thinking more and more the 50 states of the US union should split into a few confederations. I'm really starting to think the US has become to big to be both democratic and efficient."

I disagree. America hasn't become too big, she has become too diverse. The system worked well prior to the mid-1960's, before radical cultural repression took over American society. A union of fifty states with a good deal of autonomy is the best way to govern our nation, especially when multiculturalism is finally slaughtered.

Rasfarengi said at August 2, 2006 8:42 PM:

Japanese may not be having kids, but they are having sex. I lived in Tokyo for over a year. The divorce rate has been increasing for years, and I think people tend to be pessimistic since their on-again off-again recessions started occurring in the late 1980's.

China is a large country and not really ethnically homogenous. The Term "Han Chinese" which over 94% of the population falls under is misleading. China has a strong north/south divide that falls about Shanghai. They also have various dialects, some of which are further apart in mutual intelligibility than French and Italian (both Romance Languages that did not exist 2000 years ago)...most people today are taught Mandarin in school, but most people speak their dialect as a first language when in their region, and treat outsiders who do not speak it as strangers. (I lived in Shanghai for a few months in 1999, speak intermediate Mandarin and a little Shanghai dialect which are not mutually intelligible either). Each region also has different foods and varying cultural traditions.


Malaysia is one of the most diverse countries in Asia. It is Muslim Malay, Chinese, and Indian (mostly Southern Hindus) with a small mixraced population...and they seem quite happy...which is strange to me since they had race riots as early as the 1960's...when Singapor split off (which is mostly Chinese)...seems they are doing something right despite the fact they are very diverse...but what is it?

I was shocked America scored so low, especially considering that Americas have more children than any European country; usually that is a sign of optimism in a society.


Define what you mean when you say, "That isn't so much a genetic advantage for happiness due to some happiness gene as it is a very widespread human desire to be around people like oneself and to trust and feel more comfortable around people like oneself."

Randall Parker said at August 2, 2006 9:48 PM:


I'm saying that people like to be around people who are more like them in genetics, outlook, and preferences. That desire has a genetic basis. If you put people together who are more similar they will be more happy.

Now, are there genetic average differences between races in their tendencies to be happy? Very likely. But Danes are probably happier in large part because they get to be around other Danes and to govern their nation according to Danish preferences.

Ned said at August 3, 2006 10:39 AM:

Ras -

You're right about Malaysia. Muslims are a slight majority, with substantial Chinese and Indian minorities. Last time I was there, they seemed to be getting along fairly well, although the Muslims were trying to impose Islamic law (Sharia) in some of the states in which they were in the majority. The non-Muslims didn't like that very much. The Muslims already have special courts (called Syrian courts) to decide certain matters within the Muslim community. But everybody seemed to be getting along, and, as far as I am aware, Malaysia has had none of the Muslim terrorism that has plagued neighboring southern Thailand. Relations are probably better in Singapore, where Muslims are not as numerous.

Rasfarengi said at August 3, 2006 5:48 PM:


So according to you no American community can be happy because even though whites are 70% of the population they come from divergent ethnicities?

You know it is strange. I'm African American and my wife is Japanese (not American) and we get along pretty well, about half of our friends are Asian immigrants (mostly Chinese and Japanese)...the other half of our friends are black and white Americans, along with a few white Europeans (friends from school that stayed on and work here). We all tend to get along just fine at birthday parties...we go out together to have drinks, etc...now I know we are about as genetically divergent as you can get. I think it has more to do with common interest and outlook. Almost all my friends are laid back and easy going, optimistic, slightly left of center politically (but for one who is more Libertarian)...we all come from Middle Class backgrounds and at least hold bachelor degree...the majority hold Master's. That seems to be much more important than race and ethnicity...oh yeah...a shared language, being our lingua franc is English, although I speak some Mandarin and Japanese. Do you have any friends who are not white and American? Seems to me from some of the things you have said you live fairly isolated or sheltered...not saying that in order to be offensive, I mean that I think our outlook on life nad the possibilities also has to do with our experience. I have always lived in a majority white neighborhood since I can remember and have always had friends from various ethnicities...being black, I had to learn to deal with and get on with various other ethnicities including my own...so I became very flexible. I think monoethnic societies (my only real example is Japan, since that is where I lived, and Switzerland (the German speaking areas) have a tendency to have greater unity of thought, but take those people out of that environment, they are usually the first to scream "bloody murder" because things are not how "they are used to", they do not adapt well...they are usually easily scared, closed minded, and tend to look down on things they do not understand...hell my wife was like this when I first met her...8 years later...she has changed quite a bit. Then again I have met white and black people in this country who are just as closed minded because although they have opportunities to interact with those different, they do not.


I have met a few Chinese from Malaysia and once an Indian guy, that is it, never developed close friendships with any, but they seems very friendly and easy going people. i wonder how segregated the society is? Although there does not seem to be conflict outwardly, I wonder if this is a Switzerland situation, where there is little conflict because the people stay in their areas and do not intermix.

Rasfarengi said at August 3, 2006 5:50 PM:


As far as happiness...considering how many internal wars England, China, Japan, and Korea have had in the past...I do not know if similar genetics leads to harmony.

Rasfarengi said at August 3, 2006 5:58 PM:

Speaking of Malaysia...I was thinking. There are other democratic Muslim countries that are somewhat stable and middle income...who do not rely off of oil wealth...they are Turkey, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It seems that if democracy is a problem in the "Muslim" world it is primarily an Arab problem...but then again Autaturk said that he did not want Arabs in from the Ottoman Empire in the "New" Turkish Republic because they were "too tribal". Anyway that is kind of off topic.

Randall Parker said at August 3, 2006 6:18 PM:


Yes, several of my friends are not white and some not Americans.

If people can be so happy living among those of other races then why haven't American neighborhoods become a lot more integrated? They've actually become less integrated in recent years.

No single factor leads to harmony. No single factor leads to happiness. But on average it is obvious that most tend to prefer being around their own kind. Can you show me counter-examples? Sure. But that doesn't change what the average pattern is.

Malaysia: There's a net out-migration of Chinese who know they are becoming a minority. They move to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other places which are majority Chinese. I know a Chinese guy whose family did that. He's in Hong Kong now. Why do they do that? Why aren't they happy living in "diverse" Malaysia?

Indonesia: That's another place Chinese people are leaving. They suffered from massive native riots against them burning down their homes and businesses and had hundreds of billions seized from them by the Indonesian government. Persecution of the more sucessful minorities by less successful majorities is a world wide pattern. Amy Chua wrote a book about it entitled World On Fire.

Rasfarengi said at August 3, 2006 6:57 PM:

Well I know that in Malaysia they have reverse affirmative action...what I mean by that is affirmative action for the majority. During British rule, and during Dutch rule (in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively) the native Malay were discriminated against heavily by the colonial powers, and the Chinese were used as middle men (also similar to the Indians Coolies brought to Uganda) you can imagine without great difficulty the resentment of the native population agains the Chinese, who had been there for several generations but still seen as immigrants, who colaborated with Europeans. So...Malays in Malaysia passed affirmative action laws in favor of themselves. In Indonesia, I do not know about the laws, but I just know they went Mideval European and tried to kill off Chinese the way many Europeans periodically tried to kill Jews. So if I was Chinese I would likely leave too.

I do not think any of this is genetic. I think it is easy to say that because it usually falls along ethnic lines, but not always. The reason it falls along ethnic lines is because of cultural differences...and you can argue that those cultures might operate the way they do becaue of the genetics of the people who created them. I think their is some correlation but that would be a very weak argument, because I can come up with several examples off the top of my head where two groups have different cultures, roughly the same genes, and do not like each other very much.

I think in America, the problem we have always had is racialism. This country has been rationally polarized since its beginning, and on top of that we have various ethnicities comeing in large numbers all the time, in recent years, these ethncities (unlike in the past) are not absorbed not only due to race issues but the fact that unlike earlier immigrants (I can think of Swedes in Minnesota who had Swede newspapers, Czechs in Texas, French in Lousiana, and Italians in the NorthEast) after a few generations they would be relatively absorbed and lose their lingustic connection and contact with their overseas families due to distance. Now we have technology which makes travel cheaper and communication instantanous so even the grandchild of immigrans can speak their native language real time with overseas relatives, watch movies from there, travel there, etc. This serves as a barrior to intergration. There are areas in Houston, and I'm sure you know in LA where you can live your life and not need to speak english, deal with any nonSpanish speaking, Vietnamese, or Chinese speaking people 6 days of the week. Even the kids who grow up and can speak english often prefer not to. All these things I see as problems.

I think the unifying bond is not race or genetics...it is culture, and probably class level. Racialism does not help, because it serves to divide peole. If people share those things it seems they get on well. That is from my experience.

You know now that I think about it, I saw this in France. Arabs/Berbers seem to have such a hard problem there, so do blcak Muslims of African decent. The people I saw the most intergrated in France, were black carribeans. Why? Well they spoke French as a first language (probably a Creole at home, but could speak proper French if they wanted) they were generally Catholic and tended to really want to act "French" whereas the Muslims do not. This inferiates the French, because I think more than racist, they are culturalcentric. The average French will accept people, no matter their ethnic origin as long as they uphold the mythos of the Republic, they must act and think French. Needless to say intermarriage between Carribean blacks and French is very high, where it is not between Muslims, that to me is a measure of social distance between the populations, so I seriously doubt ethnic French would want a significant amount of Mulsims around them.

Randall Parker said at August 4, 2006 4:05 PM:

The racial preferences for native Malays have not closed the gap between Chinese and Malay success. Chinese have a hard time getting into Malay universities. This drives them abroad.

Of course it is genetic. There are stable average IQ differences between races. The differences are not erased by trans-racial adoption.

Racialism is a problem in America: The problem here is that if whites are oppressing and keeping down every other race then why are the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and people from India doing so well in the US. 50 years ago Korea was incredibly poor and they were "oppressed" by their Japanese colonial masters. So why can Koreans take off economically and technologically like a bat out of hell and the Malays can not? The Malays have lower average IQs. That's why.

rasfarengi said at August 4, 2006 7:17 PM:

I have done extensive study on comparative economics at a national scale. My master's thesis was a comparison of Vietnam's and China's abilities to gain foreign direct investment. I used this as a measure to rate the success of their economic transition from communist to capitalist economies. I think any talk of economic development is a lot more complicated than base line biological differences.

For instance, on another blog I just finished showing some moron how accoding to PPP and HDI that there are many "all black" countries, both in Africa (but primarily) in the Carribean who have greater wealth than most Eastern European countries, including those which have recently joined the EU. Does that mean Slavs are genetically faulty in their ability to develop, or does it mean that slavers purchased or kidnapped the best and brightest slaves and took them to these places? Uhm...point being people are more complex than just biology.

Korea was in an idea location to recieve all kinds of investment due to the cold war, which Malaysia did not get. Korea also has a COnfucius culture that they gained from China which set up a long existing system where educational achievment was key to upward mobility so this became part of the culture. Malaysia did not have this tradition, I am not an expert on Malay culture, but from what I know of the Philipines and the little I read about Malaysia and Indonesia, education was not nearly as important as family ties. The Malay had extensive trading empires in the past but rarely manufactured anything, they traded for it...which is quite different from Korea.

I am not saying there are not IQ difference between Malay and Koreans but I do know that one society (although poor) had a preexisting cultural foundation that would allow it to not only learn new technologies but also manufacture them, whereas the other really did not. To ignore this is sketchy at best.

I am all for looking at IQ, but to use IQ as a blanket independent variable that somehow overwealms everything else and explains all, is to me a leap of faith that is close to having some kind of genetic religion, people are a little more complicated.

Also...if you are looking at a certain area, any area where people live, in the U.S. If the housing price is, lets say 500K a year. Would not most of the people who own homes in the area have to be doing something to earn enough money to pay the mortgage? My point is they have to be somewhat close in IQ to earn enough money to afford this play (unless they are living 5 adults to a home or something, which is not the norm, but I realize it happens). This goes back to the fact you can have a multiethnic enviroment or neighborhood where I do not think IQ is such a great issue....I seriously doubt that in the average Middle class neighborhood that the likelihood of any given white person walking up to a black person that has a significantly lower IQ than walking up to a white person, if they both live in the same area.

rasfarengi said at August 4, 2006 7:20 PM:


Also I never said that whites here were oppressing every other race, that is what you assumed I met...not sure based on what. YOu can have a society that is racially polazied with out overt oppression. I have been to other nations with high white populations that I did not feel were racially polarized...mainly in Europe, not saying that their is not racism or ethnic tension...ever. I am saying it is not so much part of the fabric of the culture that people spend so much time thinking and discussing it as they do here.

Rasfarengi said at August 4, 2006 7:29 PM:


Sorry I'm running back and forth and kind of frazzled...if you want to see that debate over IQ and country wealth


Near the bottom I listed several countries listed in by both HDI and PPP...I put their ranking as well and compared them to countries where people supposedly have higher IQ but are far poorer or equal in wealth.

Bob Badour said at August 5, 2006 9:48 AM:


I didn't realise you were CASpears under a new name so I actually followed your link. It was a complete waste of time. Your sophistry remains as unconvincing as ever, and I suggest your master's degree is a fine example of the results we can expect from affirmative action as the dumbing down spreads up from the undergraduate programs into the graduate programs.

I am not sure what you were trying to prove when you cited the statistics showing more and more blacks failing out of the undergraduate programs in which they got racially preferred placement.

Be a man: admit you got a free ride.

Rasfarengi said at August 5, 2006 11:22 AM:


You are not a very bright person are you? First you attack me for no apparent reason. I have no addressed you at all, and you obviously did not read the entire post that I put a link to. To me this only shows that you are a small man with a big chip on his shoulder which is your issue not mine. Do not blame me because you are too big of a prick to get the job you wanted, and you think a minority got it. Maybe if you had more of a personality you would not have some crap job and a cow of a wife, with, undoubtly ungly children to boot.

I went to graduate school in Texas. There is no affirmative action for higher education in the state of Texas. My GRE was quite high along with my undergraduate GPA.

Oh and I have had my IQ tested twice, once in Junior High School and another time in High School and it was quite higher than the average white American, which resulted in me going to a magnet school. You are such a joke, is that a make of inteligence, making broad assumptions??? LOL

Dumb @$$...

You obviously did not read the entire post and it amazes me that you did not notice that the person I was arguing agains is a complete moron who could not even defend himself in any way whatsoever...I was trying to dumb down things so that he could understand.

So much for his IQ...and so much for yours.

You really need to read this:


Rasfarengi said at August 5, 2006 11:26 AM:


I will challenge you to a match of wits on these subjects anytime. If you can manage to stop feeling sorry for youself over affirmative action...and man up an face facts that you have the personality of a horse's ass...which likely shut many doors for you.

When your mother and sister stop getting affirmative action (which they do because more whie women have benefited from affirmative action than any minority group, being they make up over 36% of the US population (no counting white Hispanics)...then complain to me about it. Until then get a self help book and stop whinning to me about it.

rasfarengi said at August 5, 2006 11:37 AM:

Oh and Bob...one last thing. Trying to act like some tough keyboard warrior does not impress me, because I know damn well that if you stood right in front of me you would not have the balls to speak in such a tone, in fact if you stood within one block of a 6'3" 220lb black man you would probably piss your pants. So save it. Maybe that tone impresses your low brow girlfriend who is reading over your shoulder but that is about it. If you want to discuss something, fine. Discuss. If you want to act a fool, and play high school games I am not the one to do it with. You will be ignored. I am not here for you to get your internet jollies and make you feel like a man when you are only half of one. You are transparent and the next time you will just be ignored which means you can carry on your psuedo-intellectual masterbation with yourself.

Have a nice day Bobby-boy.

To Everyone Else:

Sorry, some people have no concept of civility. Back to the subject at hand, yes?

crush41 said at August 5, 2006 4:34 PM:


The studies really aren't that different. The 178 countries each uses are exactly the same, with negligible countries like Seychelles included while other places like Macau and Micronesia are left out. The rankings correlate with one another at an astounding .62, stronger than the relationship between contemporary wealth as measured by purchasing power parity and IQ as estimated by Lynn and Vanhanen. Vanuatu comes out on top in the happy planet index, but it still comes in among the top 15% in White's rankings. The biggest difference between the two is how much better Europe fares in White's rankings. But they are quite similar--almost 40% identical.

I definitely agree with your overarching argument, but am skeptical of using muddled sources like this to bolster it.

Bob Badour said at August 6, 2006 7:19 AM:


Methinks the Lady doth protest too much. Still not man enough to admit it, eh?

Sorry, some people have no concept of civility.

Indeed. And some have no concept of the difference between sophistry and valid argument.

Randall Parker said at August 6, 2006 8:54 AM:

CA Spears posting as Rasfarengi,

I never said IQ explains all. Low IQ countries can have higher per capita GDPs if they have oil or some other very valuable natural resource.

Also, a low IQ country of small size with really nice climate and beaches can have moderate per capita GDP if it gets a large amount of tourist business from smarter and higher per capita countries. If the country with poorer beaches has most of its tourist business managed by corporations from much more developed countries then those foreign managers can supply the needed management competence to make everything work well. A thin layer of smart management talent can make a lot of pieces of a society function if the society is not too corrupt.

As for poor Eastern European countries: IQ amounts to hardware. Ideology amounts to software. A society running on bad software (e.g. communism) can waste the hardware resources (brains). That's been the story of Eastern Europe. To a far more drastic extent that is still the story in North Korea. But end the regime in North Korea and let South Korea take over and the place would rapidly rise in living standards. 50 years from now it would be close to South Korea in living standards.

IQ places an upper limit on achievement. Other factors can prevent that upper limit from being reached.

Randall Parker said at August 6, 2006 9:04 AM:

CA Spears posting as Rasfarengi,

You can not pass off South Korea as an ideal location for investment. Taiwan and Singapore did equally well and were not getting investment due to a US troop presence in a Cold War front line state. The presence of the US Navy and USAF did not make the Phillipines into an economic powerhouse.

What explains the difference? IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

CASpears AKA Rasfarengi said at August 8, 2006 1:40 PM:


I did not even read that nonsense after the first sentence. You know my blog....you can post a topic anytime and we can debate. You do not have to fear any editing from me.


I know you are making an example above...I would say it is not all "overshore" development. Even in America, based on current IQ test, at least from what I have seen, it would mean that there are over 6 million African Americans with higher IQ's than the average white American, about 1/6th of the total population (of African Americans)...Being that 36 million is no small number, when talking about most countries in the world, that means if African Americans were a country they would have a significant population to work with, assuming little brain drain occuring.

Actually Taiwan was getting major investment, not just from us but from Japan and we did have a military base there, which we closed in the 1970's I believe. South Korea also had something else in common with Taiwan, and somewhat with Singapore (although one can argue) something economist call 'strong state development" strategies. The former two were military dictatorships until the 1980's, but despite that the regimes were heavily development centered, and guess who was sponsoring the regimes econmomically and militarily? Yeah..the U.S. Singapore, well I know they are "democratic" but definately not the most democratic of countries...like I said, not too sure on how much aid they got and from who.

Singpore...can't tell you...don't know there background.

As far as Eastern Europe...it has always been more backward and poorer than Western Europe, but for the Southern countries, that were part of the Byzantine Empire. There problem is not just Communism...Communism if anything was a symptom of larger problems...Communims was envisioned by Marx to began in Western European industrialized society but also these nations had/have communist/socialist parties Communism never took root in them as a national political structure. So once again I wonder how important is IQ overall...if IQ is one of many variables to determine economic outcome I wonder how significant it is. I would like to see that study along with a theoretical model that averages out IQ between populations based on nutricianal levels.

BTW I wanted to know if you had any IQ info on Native Americans and Austrlian Aboriginees?

Randall Parker said at August 9, 2006 5:24 PM:

CA Spears,

Australian Aborigines have very low IQs:

Lynn regards these genetic clusters as "races." He concludes that the East Asians—Chinese, Japanese and Koreans—have the highest mean IQ at 105. Europeans follow with an IQ of 100. Some ways below these are the Inuit or Eskimos (IQ 91), South East Asians (IQ 87), Native American Indians (IQ 87), Pacific Islanders (IQ 85), South Asians and North Africans (IQ 84). Well below these come the sub-Saharan Africans (IQ 67) followed by the Australian Aborigines (IQ 62).

The lowest scoring are the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert together with the Pygmies of the Congo rain forests (IQ 54).

CASpears AKA Rasfarengi said at August 10, 2006 7:21 AM:

Thanks for the info Randel:

Do you honestly believe that Bushman can live a hunter/gather existance at an IQ well below retarded? Something about that seems strange to me. At that level of retardation I seriously doubt a person can even cook for themselves. Have you met someone with an IQ that low? It is not pretty. Below 70 is retarded, but in America they will put you in a "special class" in some areas if your IQ is below 85.

Then again Rushton is far from uncontroversial...I would even say, based on what I read from teams and panels of Ph.d.'s that he is out of the mainstream, having had his methodology attacked many times. The duo that wrote the Bellcurve had their vary thesis rejected by the APA...so I would like to see some more concensus.


CASpears AKA Rasfarengi said at August 10, 2006 7:26 AM:

I also find it interesting that people can take varying size groups and average IQ figures...

"Lynn regards these genetic clusters as "races." He concludes that the East Asians—Chinese, Japanese and Koreans—have the highest mean IQ at 105. Europeans follow with an IQ of 100. Some ways below these are the Inuit or Eskimos (IQ 91), South East Asians (IQ 87), Native American Indians (IQ 87), Pacific Islanders (IQ 85), South Asians and North Africans (IQ 84). Well below these come the sub-Saharan Africans (IQ 67) followed by the Australian Aborigines (IQ 62).
The lowest scoring are the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert together with the Pygmies of the Congo rain forests (IQ 54)"

You take like 800 million subsahara Africans, over 1.5 billion East Asians, then group SEAsians (I'm guessing this is including Vietnamese, however Vietnamese have heavy Chinese admixture and a cutlure more similar to East Asia than South East Asia), you take North Africas who are like only 15 million at best, then Europeans who are about 1 billion...that seems to eliminate the diversity within these large groups, especially in a place like Subsahara Africa and East and South East Asia where the people are much more genetically divergent than North Africa and Europe...that to me seems misleading.

Bob Badour said at August 10, 2006 3:36 PM:


Homo Habilis survived in Africa making and using tools, and was probably far dumber than even the bushmen. Heck, chimpanzees survive in Africa using sticks to dig termites out of their mounds.

One doesn't need to be a genius to start a fire, shoot an arrow or find water. Even gerbils can find water in the desert.

I don't follow your logic regarding the bushmen. I suggest your apparent inference is actually non sequitur.

Randall Parker said at August 10, 2006 8:46 PM:

CA Spears,

I could have used a source other than Phil Rushton for what is in Lynn and Vanhanen's book. Rushton was just convenient for it since he condensed the relevant sections nicely. I'm sure that Rushton's presentation accurately reflects what is in IQ and Wealth of Nations.

If you want to complain you can complain about the book. But I've yet to see any arguments that the book does not represent what the psychometricians have measured in various human populations (at least not from anyone who is familiar with the research literature). The academic critics of these sorts of research results tend to take the position that while the tests found these differences the tests are flawed due to cultural biases or other factors. I think they are wrong to say that. But that appears to be the thrust of the rebuttal.

As for the Bell Curve: A lot of academics who knew little about psychometrics research attacked the book. It was an affront to their secular religion. But within the psychometrics profession the book was mostly praised as an accurate summary of the state of knowledge of psychometrics at that point in time. A large number of psychometricians even signed a letter to that effect once the book came under heavy attack in the liberal media.

Randall Parker said at August 10, 2006 9:00 PM:

On humans surviving with very low IQs: Sure, why not? Monkeys, dogs, and other species survive with even lower levels of intelligence.

Also, a white guy who has a 55 IQ is probably that way due to genetic defects that mess him up in many other ways. A person who has genetically selected for lower IQ has higher levels of non-IQ functionality (e.g. coordination) than a person who has low IQ due to, say, exposure to toxins in the womb.

Rasfarengi said at August 12, 2006 7:28 PM:

Randall Parker...can you recommend any overviews of current psychometrics research (thought)? I would like to look into some material on my own.

Randall Parker said at August 12, 2006 8:07 PM:


If you wants to read empirical and unideological treatments of psychometric research into intelligence, IQ, and "g" then a good place to start is Linda Gottfredson's research papers. For example, see her paper Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life (PDF file).

If you care to read the hereditarian arguments on IQ and psychometric research I can offer a number of pointers: Start with The Bell Curve. Also read Intelligence,Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen by Jensen and Frank Miele and The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability by Arthur Jensen. If you want a free book on IQ then check out the free download of Chris Brand's IQ book g Factor (same title, different book). I haven't read Brand's book.

Here and here (both PDF format) are two recent papers by Jensen and Rushton on the IQ, heredity, and environment. You can also read Linda Gottfredson's paper (again PDF) reacting to the first of those two papers.

Rasfarengi said at August 14, 2006 4:17 PM:


Thanks for the links.

BTW have you seen this?


Randall Parker said at August 15, 2006 4:31 PM:


Yes, I've read about the nucleosome work. Very interesting stuff.

Rasfarengi said at August 17, 2006 10:29 AM:


Also in this article:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/ f...1635380,00.html

He is in the editorial board of The Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund was established in 1937 by the American white supremacist multimillionaire Wickliffe Draper and others who were supportive of Nazi race policies in Germany. J. Philippe Rushton is the leader."

teaboings said at March 10, 2011 5:32 PM:

this is stupid. the population of "top" countries are tiny. iceland and bahamas? there are more people living in a small section of the bronx, new york - which is just a small part of the total new york city, which is just a small part of america - than live in iceland and bahamas. combine brooklyn and queens section of new york city and they are bigger or as big as all those top 20 except canada. you can't compare groups of 1,000 with 1,000,000. there's no matrix that can be used. it's silly. and besides, the list contain many happy countries with great mixtures of people while places like japan, china, botswana are homogeneous yet unhappy. bahamas has nearly 20% caucasian/asian. canada is very diverse. montreal, vancouver, and toronto are among the most diverse cities in the world and where most canadians live. i hate these studies that rate tiny countries with those of huge populations. it's moronic to make any comparison at all. compare swiss to connecticut, usa. both are tiny places compared to america, brazil, russia. go to a section of queens, ny called "jackson heights" where there is the most ethnic diversity in the world per square mile. ask them if they are happy. or toronto... the most ethnically diverse city in the world - i've been there and they are REALLY happy people. then go to dirt poor alabama, usa where white-only populations bigger than iceland and bahamas combined and ask them if they are happy. and finally...i've been to the nordic countries on this list and they are some of the most serious faced people i've ever seen. depression is a serious problem there. and they are not known for showing their true feelings deep inside. these are not fun and happy people compared with brazilians or americans (two VERY diverse places where laughter and true "happy" can be seen all over the place). nordic are nice people for sure but i wouldn't ever label them as "happy". maybe these countries are just happy to be surrounded by their own race which really means they are happy other races aren't around. maybe they are happy racists? i guess that counts!

DFung said at August 31, 2011 12:43 PM:

This is how I see it:

The 20 happiest nations in the World are:

1 - Denmark - really homogenous and small country that have not faced any major wars (they didn't do much in WW2 besides helping the Jewish)
2 - Switzerland - ethnically diverse country of French, Germans, and Italians knows as the peace center of the world (also faced no wars)
3 - Austria - although they faced war and poverty during WW1, they have recovered over the century (this might actually be an outlier)
4 - Iceland - really small and homogenous country that barely has any contact with the world. It's capital has 100k people and it has no military whatsoever, basically, any country can walk in and take over the barren island but I doubt anyone wants to so they never faced any wars
5 - The Bahamas - another small island nation that has little contact with the world other than its beaches that so many people risk their life cruising to.
6 - Finland - same as Denmark
7 - Sweden - same as Denmark, a bit more people and bigger which is probably why it's ranked lower than Denmark and Finland
8 - Bhutan - tiny country that has little contact with the world which means another one with no war
9 - Brunei - same as Bhutan
10 - Canada - as many have already said, Canada is the outlier in size and population in the top 10. however, they are not an outlier when it comes to war, it is one of the most peaceful nations in the world
11 - Ireland - I was surprised by this one given that it is among one of the poorest countries in Europe. However, they have also faced no wars because UK was a meatshield.
12 - Luxembourg - same as Switzerland except mostly Germany
13 - Costa Rica - same as Bahamas
14 - Malta - same as Bahamas
15 - The Netherlands - this is a slightly crowded country and was involved in WW2 as well as colonization but still, it has not taken any major roles in wars compared to its neighbor France.
16 - Antigua and Barbuda - same as Bahamas
17 - Malaysia - ethnically diverse country of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, etc. but have not faced any wars and the ethnic groups fit together pretty well.
18 - New Zealand - another peaceful sanctuary similar to Iceland but some more people
19 - Norway - this country is ranked pretty low compared to the rest of Scandinavia despite also having no wars since the Vikings.
20 - The Seychelles - same as Bahamas

so now that you noticed, top 20 is filled with small countries (except Canada) and countries without war in the past century (except Austria). Also, most of these countries are pretty well off economy-wise (except Bhutan, Brunei, and Ireland)

Other notable results include:

23 - USA - despite being top tier economic-wise, USA has struggled through numerous wars including the recent war against terrorism it has taken part in in the Middle East. USA has also suffered through WW2, WW1, Korean War, Vietnam War, etc... however, it's still ranked pretty high because asides from wars and bad health care, USA will be just like Canada.
35 - Germany - another country with the same situation as the USA but probably even worse since it took on the losing side of WW2 and WW1. however, Germany's homogenous population and booming economy makes up for it so it is still in the top 50.
41 - UK - another country with the same situation as the USA but probably even worse since it suffered directly during WW2 (UK was boomed like crazy and basically carried on a 1v1 with Germany who was all ready). again, economy makes up for it.
62 - France - same story with UK. only difference is lower economy.
82 - China - China has suffered major wars in the past century from wars against foreigners, wars against Japan, WW2, Korean War, Vietnam War and it's very own civil war. The fact that China is a communist country might also account for the low rank. Despite the large GDP/PPP amount, you also have to account for China's giant population which is also the case with India. There are very poor people and very rich people. Also, China is not a homogenous nation if you consider language and customs between Northerners and Southerners. True, 92% of China is considered Han (I am one of them but overseas) but Han people have seperated amongst themselves for thousands of years. China as it is today is a fairly new country.
90 - Japan - this country suffered just as much as Germany during WW2 if not more. The atomic bombs about 50 years ago might influence its low ranks. Despite its spectacular economy, Japan tries really hard compared to more laid back nations like USA which might account for a low rank (this is the same for Korea, HK, Taiwan, and Singapore and possibly even China). These Asian nations are still in development and having internal east vs west struggle despite being "one race nations."
125 - India - not only are they huge in population density, India is also very poor and suffered many religious conflicts with Hindus vs Muslims (Pakistan, Bangladesh). all 3 of these nations are developing slowly and have overly high population and poverty and face conflicts.
167 - Russia - this is by far, the most surprising to me. I would imagine it to be WW2's effect as well as the decline of the USSR (however, other USSR nations suck as Ukraine are ranking much higher). I'm guessing its either poverty that we know little about or corrupt government added with war that accounts to this. I always thought Russia would at least rank close to Japan though, guess I was wrong.

As for the bottom countries, most of them are in Africa and suffer huge ethnic wars that involves genocide and poverty. So its obvious why.

So all in all, happiness has to do with wars. The reason why many small countries do better is because they are often not involved in any war due to their small importance. Also, being homogenous does help mainly because that reduces ethnic conflicts.

Erik said at June 1, 2014 4:44 AM:

A lot myths thrown around here. Nordic countries aren't that homogenous. And certainly not Switzerland. E.g. at least 15% and 20% of Norwegian and Swedish population respectively are not natives. Compare that to 2% in Japan, then that is obviously a big difference. You can find a lot more more countries which are more homogenous than nordic countries. And they aren't particularly happy.

When comparing asian countries to nordics I can think of lot of things which would make nordics happier. In many asian countries life is very competitive and stressfull. Long school days and work days. Nordic countries typically have short school days and work days. Kids have are not subject to a lot of pressure and have a lot of freedom. Denmark which is at the top is known among all Nordic countries as a chill place. That is a place were people like to enjoy life: drink beer and eat danishes ;-) In general people have a lot of freedom in Nordic countries. You can speak up against your boss without risking getting fired. There are not lots of imposing social conventions like e.g. in many asian countries. When interving new countrymen like poles this is one thing they mention about e.g. Norway: there is simply a lot less stress and worry about the future. Almost everybody makes enough money to be in a comfortable economic situation and the welfare states helps you out with a lot of problems.

I don't think I would be very happy if I lived in a place like Japan were the boss would expect me to work until 12. I would hardly ever see my family. Then combine this with an authoritarian workplace were I probably couldn't air my issues with the boss.

France also has a good welfare state, but life there is far more stressfull. Long working hours and strict social conventions. Kids e.g. have a much more rigid and demanding life. Managers can be quite demanding and elitist from what I read. Managers are seldom hired for their people skills.

In sort I think you have to look at social and cultural aspects as well as material well being. Wealth distribution would matter because people wouldn't be happy if all the wealth was concentrated in a few hands. But equality itself doesn't make you happy. Just look at the misery in ex-communist countries. Without aspirations for a better life and freedom people will not be happy.

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