Forget the economic crisis, we're the happiest nation in Europe

The weather may be terrible and the economy falling to pieces, but a new study claims we are the happiest nation in Europe.

The Happy Planet Index shows the UK ranks highest for "sustainable well-being" in Europe. The index is created by first calculating "Happy Life Years" by adjusting a country's experienced well-being to its life expectancy.

This figure is then divided by the country's ecological footprint – the amount of land required to sustain its consumption patterns. But the index also shows that we lag far behind many countries that are traditionally considered "less developed", such as front- runners Costa Rica and Vietnam.

Happy Planet Index founder Nick Marks said that it is "the first global index of sustainable well-being".

"We created the Happy Planet Index to highlight the tension between creating good lives now and good lives in the future," he said.

"The ultimate outcome of a nation is how successful it is at creating happy and healthy lives for its citizens."

The index does seem to conform to perceived global trends.

Using Gallup data from 2007 and 2010, the report's authors showed how recession-ridden Spain and Greece experienced sharp falls in sustainable happiness in the past four years.

The UK came 41st out of 151 countries, and while it is the most sustainably happy country in Europe, some of the countries that outrank it may surprise some.

War-torn Iraq and Palestine (counted as a country for the report's purposes), for instance, rank 36th and 30th respectively. On the other hand, the USA lags far behind, at number 105.

The UK's position is low compared to other less economically developed countries because we require a large amount of land to sustain our consumption – some 4.7 "global hectares" compared with the "global fair share" of 1.7 hectares.

The report's co-author, Juliet Michaelson, explained that while the UK might have scored the best in Europe, our position was "within the margin of error" compared with France and Germany.

She said the Government could increase the UK's ranking on the scale by introducing policies to reduce unemployment, reduce working hours and reduce our environmental impact.

Ms Michaelson said: "The upcoming discussions at the Rio+20 Earth Summit are the key to whether we can make our economy environmentally sustainable."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Intruder Alarm Trainee Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This friendly and fast growing security compan...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore