United States: 114th Out of 143 on the Happy Planet Index


The New Economics Foundation, a lefty British think tank published its Happy Planet Index report last week. By evaluating life expectancy, lived experience polls, and resource use, the NEF folks have determined that the planet is very unhappy with Americans. The good news is that the planet is much happier with places like Cuba, Mexico, Egypt, and India. See the map below summarizing the NEF data.

Unhappy U.S. Happy Cuba

The top ten Happy Planet countries are: Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala, Vietnam, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Brazil, and Honduras. The U.S. is 114 out 143 countries, nudging out Nigeria, Guinea, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, Democratic Repubic of the Congo, Sudan, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, and Ethiopia as the next lowest ten countries indexed as happy. At least Zimbabwe remains at the bottom of the heap in 143rd place.

Note: I was away last week, but I acknowledge that some perceptive H&R commenters cited the publication of this report.

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  1. The Dirty Little Secret that the Federal Government doesn’t want you to know!

    All the people running across the border illegally are running south! Americans, desperate for the daily ecstasy that living in Mexico entails, are dying to cross the Rio Grande and the Southwestern deserts, just to join the underground economy there, so their children might have a chance at a better life.

    1. Maybe there was a massive transcription error. Perhaps it’s The Crappy Planet Index?

  2. You know who else would have scored highly on the Happy Planet Index?

    1. Captain Planet?

    2. Genghis Khan?

      1. Hitler’s Autobahn Policy? It’s all the “fahrvergnugen.” Mother Earth just loves the driving enjoyment.

    3. Bob Ross?

      1. That’s too fucking happy.

  3. Suddenly US foreign policy makes sense! We’re not occupying third world shitholes in quixotic bids to build them into democracies. We’re invading them to make way for mass relocations.

  4. Yes! Finally! I’ve been waiting all year for a sorry bunch Limey pinkos to tell me what’s what. I’m moving to Honduras!

    1. An “of” was supposed to be there, but it’s probably on its way to Guatemala by now and couldn’t take part in the construction of that sentence.

      1. Your “of” is living in Guatemala, amongst a harem of lost ampersands.

  5. The new results confirm that we are still not living on a happy planet. No country is able to combine success across the three goals of high life expectancy, high experienced well-being and living within environmental limits.

    OK. So let’s look at the Ecological Footprint:

    The HPI uses the Ecological Footprint promoted by the environmental charity WWF as a measure of resource consumption. It is a per capita measure of the amount of land required to sustain a country’s consumption patterns, measured in terms of global hectares (g ha) which represent a hectare of land with average productive biocapacity.

    So I donwload the pdf and find:

    We use the Ecological Footprint, a metric of human demand on nature, used widely by NGOs, the UN, and several national governments.
    It measures the amount of land required to sustain a country’s consumption patterns. It includes the land required to provide the renewable resources people use (most importantly food and wood products), the area occupied by infrastructure, and the area required to absorb CO2 emissions. Crucially it includes ’embedded’ land and emissions from imports. So the CO2 associated with the manufacture of a mobile phone made in China, but then bought by someone living in Chile, will count towards Chile’s Ecological Footprint, not China’s

    1. Give ’em credit tarran – that’s a lot of stupid to pack into one report.

    2. So when China pollutes, we made them do it!

  6. So, essentially, people who live in a country that uses lots of capital goods to increase their productivity are penalized under this metric when the trade with people who are less productive.

    1. Yes.

      And people who live 10 to a grass hut, with a life expectancy of 35 and a lot of nasty parasites that make them miserable 24/7, are happy as hell because they don’t occupy much of an ecological “footprint”.

      Finally, if Mary American gets to enjoy an iPad, which causes the air in some Chinese city to be carcinogenic, then the Chinese with cancer are happy and Mary’s not.

      1. BTW I wonder if the people in the grass hut get extra bliss credit for hosting those parasites. An ecological footprint occupies THEM! How much happier could someone possibly be?

        1. You laugh, but that’s exactly what these idiots are saying…

          Not to mention, ecological footprint has nothing to do with happiness!

          People are happy based on how closely their consumption is aligned with their desires!

          Some people might derive an aesthetic pleasure out of a low footprint. Others, conversely, may derive aesthetic pleasure out of a high ecological footprint. Most people don’t give a fuck.

          This reminds me of the Bhutanese GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness) whcih was supposed to be a better metric for the rulers to use rather than the evil, capitalist GDP.

          When I dug into it, many years ago, it turned out that the GHP was calculated to give weight to all the things the aristocrats liked, and to give short shrift to stuff the aristocrats didn’t like (Bhutan’s political system is traditional feudalism).

          So the aristocrats had crafted a method of “proving” that they were doing a good job by calculating a number that was higher when the society did the things the aristocrats liked more.

          1. Similar to many of the UN’s country rankings.

            Don’t remember who said it, but someone made the observation that UN country rankings are less about identifying objective metrics and more about ascertaining how Swedish your country is.

            When I look at the formulae that they used many moons back, that’s exactly what it was. Nothing wrong with Sweden (they have a relatively small number of non-labor regulations, for example), but there’s nothing which makes it an objectively great country, either.

            1. **Obligatory link to hot Swedish women goes here.**

            2. Question is, how American are the Swedes?

              Police searching for a suspected criminal in Malm? in southern Sweden on Friday mixed up the address and raided the wrong apartment, leaving the roughed up residents with a seriously damaged front door.

              “It was completely surreal…the door suddenly burst open and in stormed fully-equipped police who started to scream. It was like an American film,” Hanna Flodr told the Aftonbladet daily.

              Flodr, who was in the apartment with her 65-year-old father Pavel, was sleeping when the police arrived and forced their way in at 9.45am on Friday morning.

              The pensioner, who is reported to have a heart condition, was forced to the floor at gunpoint and with a knee in his back.

              See, they’re just like us!

              1. yes, what an earth shattering surprise. swat raids occur in pretty much every developed nation

                and some of those raids have massive fuckupedness

              2. Not really … the wrong-address raid made the news in Sweden. It was a man-bites-dog story there.

            3. about ascertaining how Swedish your country is

              You have no idea how much that pisses off the Norwegians.

          2. So the aristocrats had crafted a method of “proving” that they were doing a good job by calculating a number that was higher when the society did the things the aristocrats liked more.

            Sounds alot like GDP in the US.

  7. Last time I was in Guatemala, we were helping to build water filters in a post-war planned community so kids wouldn’t die of diarrhea. Boy, the smiles on their faces when they knew their anuses wouldn’t burn like a sheep’s after a Steve Smith encounter!

    1. The sainted poor living abroad are so very picturesque in their suffering and squalor.

      1. So, you’ve been to school
        For a year or two
        And you know you’ve seen it all
        In daddy’s car
        Thinking you’ll go far
        Back east your type don’t crawl

        Playing ethnicky jazz
        To parade your snazz
        On your five-grand stereo
        Braggin’ that you know
        How the niggers feel cold
        And the slum’s got so much soul

        1. “Everybody wanna be ghetto, but nobody wanna be poor”

      2. Have you met them at all? The poor? Oh you must meet them, I know you’ll like them. Charming people! Of course they haven’t got two pennies to rub together but that’s because they’re poor.

  8. Not everyone in Honduras is happy, in 2011 it had the highest murder rate in the world.

    1. Yes, but they murdered people with pointy sticks rather than hand-guns, so their ecological footprint was lower.

      1. See, we were popular back when happiness was a warm gun.

      2. Good point!

        Gun violence causes all sorts of misery. Pointy-stick violence is the pathway to bliss.

        1. Pointy-stick violence is the pathway to bliss.

          The 3 inch spear head embedded in Kennewick man’s hip agrees with you.

      3. Yes, but they murdered people with pointy sticks rather than hand-guns, so their ecological footprint was lower.

        Machetes are the 3rd world’s weapon of choice.

    2. So you think the survivors are unhappy because they envy the dead?

    3. jamaica is consitently in the top 5 highest murder rates in the world and its in their top 10. These people are fucking delusional.

  9. Ask a Cuban refugee how fucking happy life was back home.

  10. Wait… This is the HAPPY PLANET index, not the HAPPY PEOPLE index.

    See, there’s nothing that makes Gaia happier than Schadenfreude. She fucking HATES people, and the more brutal their suffering, the giddier the bitch is.

  11. a lefty British think tank

    Department of Redundancy Dept.

  12. The set of “happiest” countries maps pretty well to the set of countries with high immigration outflow.

    1. Of course it does. All of those people are leaving their happy countries so that they can evangelize to us miserable Americans about the right way to do things.

      1. It’s similar to how American negroes in the antebellum period migrated to the North to evangelize the plantation lifestyle.

        Oh, the fun they had singing on massa’s plantation! And at such a low carbon footprint per slave!

        1. Unlike the filthy iron horses of expansionist America, their railroad was underground!

      2. Well obviously advertising is what’s making those happy peasants want to come here to be miserable.

  13. United States: 114th Out of 143 on the Happy Planet Index

    What? We placed that low?

    Now I’m even sadder.

    1. It’s a self-perpetuating thing.


      2. Now 115th. Thanks, jerks.

    2. Shit, Jimmy Carter could still be President.

      There, NOW don’t you feel better?

      1. I feel all malaisical.

        1. That’s fine, just so long as it’s not artisanal malaise.

  14. I didn’t realize the deep and immediate impact of the Obamacare decision on America’s misery index.


  15. I notice the Messicans must be REALLY happy, based on the map.

    Guns and drugs for EVERYONE!!

  16. At the risk of incurring the wrath of everyone above, I was going to post about my “diet theory.” To wit, there are two guys who weigh 400 lbs. One is happy. One is not. Why? Because the happy one just lost 100 lbs and looks forward to further weight loss. The other guy just gained 100 lbs and is miserable, for obvious reasons. My point is that expectations and how we rate our success relative to our neighbors is what makes us happy/optimistic, not the absolute, objective value of our wealth, etc. But I wasn’t going to post my thoughts. Then I immediately ran across the headline at the following link……

  17. “… a lefty British think tank…”
    Well, there you go, right there.
    When they use the word ‘happy’ they mean something entirely different than I do.

    1. It is also worth mentioning that when Bailey used the descriptive ‘think tank’, he meant something different than I do when I use the term.

      1. Ya’ll mean that tank that receives the output of your deep thinking spells?

  18. If Americans think they’re unhappy now, wait until Obamacare kicks in.

  19. awesome. per volokh.com

    The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

    The city collected 5,500 guns last Saturday in the annual buyback. The city gave out $100 MasterCard gift cards for each gun and $10 cards for BB guns and replicas.

    Sixty of the guns and several BB guns were turned in by the Champaign-based Guns Save Life [yielding $6,240]?. Most of the money will go toward buying ammunition for an NRA youth camp in Bloomington. The rest will pay for four bolt-action rifles that will be given away to campers.

    “This was rusty, non-firing junk that we turned in,” Boch said. “We are redirecting funds from people who would work against the private ownership of firearms to help introduce the next generation to shooting safely and responsibly.”

    1. It is particularly interesting that those decrying what happened are complaining basically that the outcome wasnt what they intended.
      Seems this is a case where, though intentions are important, results do count.

  20. Sometimes dude you jsut have to get down with it, thats all man.


  21. Kewl!!!! Cuba made the list! Maybe next time I’m in Key West, I’ll get brave and swim over to the promised land! Gee, if I hurry maybe I can still make it while Castro is alive. I bet he’ll be so impressed he’ll make me a hero of the state! Oh, I can’t wait to be living in a truly free country!

    1. OK, that burnt out my sarcasmosome. I gotta go regenerate now.

      1. You visit key west…

        Now I am unhappy.

  22. Finally something WI might agree with.

  23. Call no Nation happy until it is dead.

  24. Seems to me that this brit non-think tank is planning to co-opt the term “happy” for some alternative meaning – kind of like the word “gay” does not mean “happy” anymore.

    And with the state of things in the west – USA included – an argument could be made that there will be so little happiness left that we will have no reason to keep a word for it any longer.

  25. See, the thing that upsets them the most, and which causes them to put the US so low on the list, is that we don’t give a flying fuck what they think. That makes me happy.

  26. LOLOL So much for that “think tank” in the UK. A bit daft, I might say, wouldn’t you?? What a bunch of fools!

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