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
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat