Happy? Maybe it's because you're British

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The Independent Online

The climate stinks, the trains are a joke and we have an international reputation for miserable cuisine.

The climate stinks, the trains are a joke and we have an international reputation for miserable cuisine.

Yet Britain emerges as one of the 20 happiest countries on the planet in the first world league table of contentment. The average Briton is happy for 55 years and three months of his lifetime, says the team of economists behind the study.

That's less than the Swiss, who are the happiest of all, with 63 blissful years, but considerably more than the Moldovans, who can only manage 20 years and six months of joy.

Ireland comes in eighth with 58.4 happy years, and Britain 16th with 55.4.

"The best measure of health is how long people live, and the best measure of happiness is self-reported satisfactions with life as a whole,'' say researchers from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, who investigated a range of factors in different countries, including income, suicide rates and wealth.

Surprisingly, income inequality - the gap between rich and poor - did not have the depressing effect on morale that many claim.

The report says that, in all the countries surveyed, there has been a rise in the number of happy years enjoyed by individuals. The biggest rise - 12 years since 1973 - was in Italy.

Eastern Europe is the gloomiest region in the world; its nations occupy nine of the top 10 positions near the bottom of the table. Only Nigeria prevented them making it a perfect 10.

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