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Monday, June 08, 2015

The 4th (tie) happiest country in the world

Despite all of the challenges that face this country, a recent OECD survey found that we are tied for being the fourth  happiest country in the world.
Denmark’s residents are the most satisfied with their lives, according to the Better Life Index released Monday. According to the study, published annually by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States failed to crack the top 10 for the fifth consecutive year.
The Better Life Index rates the 34 OECD member nations, as well as Brazil and the Russian Federation, on 22 variables that contribute to overall well-being, including income, education, housing, health, and life satisfaction. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the countries with the highest life satisfaction score.
A healthy job market is one of the most important factors contributing to higher life evaluations. Employment rates -- the percentage of the working-age population that is employed -- were higher in each of the 10 countries with the highest life satisfaction score than the average employment rate for the countries reviewed.
Conversely, countries with relatively unhealthy job markets had lower life satisfaction scores. Unemployment rates were above 8.5% in seven of the 10 least happy countries, while they were lower than 7% in all but two of the happiest countries. 
Feeling connected to one’s community is another factor in a country’s happiness. In all but one of the happiest countries, at least 90% of respondents reported having a quality support network that they could rely on in times of need. “People are social creatures and get pleasure from spending time with others,” Boarini said.
Good personal health, too, can contribute to a person’s happiness. In New Zealand, tied for the seventh happiest country, 90% of people surveyed considered themselves in good health, the highest proportion of all countries reviewed. Additionally, in all but one of the happiest countries, more than 70% of respondents said they were in good health, all higher than the 36 country average of 68% of people in countries reviewed.
Israel's page is here. Curiously, we rank low for having a support network. This is a social country where everything seems to be done by groupthink so that's kind of surprising. Maybe it's because we have a large number of immigrants who have not yet developed a support network of their own. The low disposable income is not surprising. It's related to our outrageous tax rates.
By many measures, Israel is an outlier as one of the happiest countries in the world. For example, with the exception of Israel, residents in every country with a high level of life satisfaction reported having a strong network of friends or family. In Israel, only 87% of respondents said they had a strong sense of community, 26th in this measure. Perhaps because of its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, Israel ranked as one of the least safe countries among countries reviewed, with 6.4% of the population reporting having experienced an assault in the past 12 months. Nevertheless, 80% of respondents reported being in good health, one of the higher rates among countries measured by the OECD.
In case you're wondering, our life satisfaction score ties us with Finland (most of the secular educators here envy Finland's system, which starts late every day and starts reading much later than most Jews could tolerate).

And if you're wondering who beat us, that's a three-way tie among Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark.

Anyone want to make aliya?

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