Monday, December 6, 2010

Happiness Is A Favourable Set Of Statistics

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.


  1. With multi-million dollar salary and his family in control of the country's assets, he can manufacture a lot of happiness for his family and cronies. Well, like you say, it depends who you ask.

  2. you know the joke about paying people to say nice things about yourself...

  3. One just wonder WTF would an American author be bothered checking whether we Singaporeans are happy or not ? Was he paid to do the window dressing job for our PAP govt in the first place ? Nowadays, anything is just possible especially when secrets are being uncovered from time to time.

    If he was really paid to do so, then so much for our policies for forbidding any foreigner to 'interfere' with the domestic affairs of Singaporeans, isn't it ? Would anyone be able to find out the truth with our secretive PAP in charged ?

    Interesting enough, it has been reported recently that some Americans were embarrassed for their first time in their lifes that they have to queue for free grocery items at some charity centre because of hard times.

    Was this American author least bothered for their happiness ?

  4. Happiness is but a set of statistics.

    Well said Sir!


  5. Haha Singapore is tying with Iran in number 81 in the chart, what a joke for a 1st class country with a 1st class government. Ohh Switzerland is high up in the chart at number 8. So much for SM Goh Swiss pipe dream..... we have a long long way to go.

  6. According to the Gallup World Poll, Singapore has 19% Thriving, 75% Struggling, 6% Suffering. That looks pretty accurate!

  7. Would the 19% mainly consist of the politicians, their family , cronies and elites?

  8. @ 10.12am,
    i am inclined to go with the data from Gallup World Poll and it's sad to see the 75% plus 6% not translating into similar percentage of votes at the GE...assuming majority can vote.

    about time the 75% and 6% make a collective effort to reduce the happiness index of those thriving by inflicting a dose of misery, starting with PAP politicians.