Global Survey Suggest that Capitalism Does NOT Lead to Happiness

Written by on February 10, 2016 in Economy with 8 Comments


By Robin Scher | AlterNet

What is happiness? This might sound like a question you’d hear come out of Derek Zoolander’s mouth. But seriously, think about it. Is it a matter of perspective, your relationships, a neurological chemical imbalance, or career fulfillment? The more you try to pin down this elusive state of mind, the more achieving a measure for it seems out of reach. Take the movie Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014), in which Hector (Simon Pegg) travels the entire world trying to solve this philosophical quandary. By the time Hector sort of works it out, all we're really left with is 120 minutes of our lives we’ll never get back.

Luckily, for the past 39 years, WIN/Gallup International (Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research) has been conducting a survey that claims to offer a quantitative measure of levels of happiness around the world. Last month it published its survey’s most recent findings taking into account “the outlook, expectations, views and beliefs of 66,040 people from 68 countries across the globe.”

While the survey’s indices may be far from a definitive accounting, they certainly offer some interesting insights into capitalism’s relative effects on a population’s perception and enjoyment of their lives. Participating countries in the survey were divided into three tiers: Prosperous (the G7); Emerging (G20, excluding the original G7) and Aspiring (all other nations).

One thing immediately apparent even to the most entry-level statistician is that net happiness is unrelated, or possibly inversely proportional, to a country’s wealth. While Prosperous nations experienced a 42% net happiness, Emerging and Aspiring nations soared past with 59% and 54% respectively.

In capitalism's own bosom, the United States scored a meager net happiness rate of 43% in stark contrast to Mexico’s 76%. This difference is particularly noteworthy given the U.S. enjoys five times the per capita income of its southern neighbor. In fact, not one of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Great Britian, Italy, Japan and the United States) cracked the top 10 list for happiest countries, but did score two spots (Italy and France) for top 10 most unhappy nations.

Although the Economic Optimism and Hope indices seem just as vague as the happiness metric, they were equally revealing. Maybe thanks to the fact mortgage bonds are yet to be invented in these countries, the top two spots for optimism were taken by Nigeria (61%) and Bangladesh (60%). No less noteworthy, although not surprising given recent history, was Greece topping the list of most economically pessimistic societies, followed closely by EU cohorts Austria (-49%), Italy (-47%) and Sweden (-47%). In general, Prosperous nations displayed the least amount of hope (6%) and economic optimism (-16%), while on the flipside, Emerging nations are both more hopeful (50%) and optimistic (36%). Demographics-wise, millennial pessimism might be exaggerated; young people are generally more optimistic (31%) than their calloused older brethren (13%).


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8 Reader Comments

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  1.' Lesley Joan Roberts says:

    spelling error: should read fare

  2.' Erik Albert says:

    External systems can not trigger happiness. Happiness is an inside job.

  3.' Petrit Demo says:


  4.' Jeff Andrews says:

    putting unskilled demoralized that is a relative state of eating each other alive with hand to mouth mentality thus a burden on sustainable cultures leading to criminal state player ..

  5.' Jeff Andrews says:

    Capital is wealth of resources ..and pissing it away leads to war

  6.' Daniel Davison says:

    No sh*t

  7.' Jarema Jay A says:

    Oh, REALLY?? And you needed a survey to know that?
    Ego, greed, money worship, lack of giving and lack of compassion for the less fortunate, doesn’t equal happiness… who would’ve thought that? That is shocking, that is,

  8.' Xavier Zorba says:

    I made a statement about them being a sign of the road to hell, but not in those words.
    Apparently I’m a troll.
    Young people have been systemically “zombied” in to believing that older people know nothing, are just bitter and need to be ignored.
    Physics, maths and logic tells anyone with eyesight that capitalism has gone WAY beyond its remit.
    Kids have been “groomed” by the 1% and their minions to ignore dissenters…
    The only ones I feel sorry for are animals and this poor planet.

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