Based on research done by professor Ruut Veenhoven who runs the World Database of Happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam, here is a list of the top 10 happiest countries in the world in ascending order:
10 - Luxembourg
9 - Guatemala
8 - Canada
7 - Sweden
6 - Australia
5 - Finland
4 - Iceland
3 - Austria
2 - Switzerland
1 - Denmark
Quantifying happiness isn't an easy task. Researchers at the Gallup World Poll went about it by surveying thousands of respondents in 155 countries, between 2005 and 2009, in order to measure two types of well-being. Denmark(10) again tops the list, followed by Finland(2), Norway(3), Sweden(4), Netherlands(4). Singapore is tied at 81st spot, shared by Hongkong, Japan and Iran.
Yet American author Dan Buettner is claiming in his new book that statistics from three sources, including above two, pointed to Singapore as the happiest place in Asia. According to him, Singapore has all that correlates to happiness on a worldwide level: 1) tolerance, 2) status equality, 3) security, 4) trust, 5) access to recreation and financial security.
Whoever he talked to obviously didn't brief him about these correlations: 1) filial piety over shelter for Mas Selamat morphed into a political race card, 2) perceptions of citizens relegated as 3rd class denizens, 3) gangfights and fatal stabbings in shopping malls, 4) "subsidised" public housing ending up as unaffordable market value transactions, 5) after a life time of toil, CPF savings are insufficient for retirement.
Buettner got this right though: There is no question that Singapore shows that happiness can be manufactured or engineered through government policy. He explains the magic of the statistics, "When it comes to manufactured happiness, I don't know anybody else on the planet who has done a better job than (MM Lee) has, and I know there will be lots of people laughing at me right now." When people are mandated to be happy, that's not funny Mr Buettner, not funny at all.