Dutch are happiest, says survey

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The Independent Online

Freedom, equality and brotherhood, the credo of the French Revolution, have long been considered fundamental to living a good life. But new research suggests they do not necessarily breed happiness.

Freedom, equality and brotherhood, the credo of the French Revolution, have long been considered fundamental to living a good life. But new research suggests they do not necessarily breed happiness.

In an international study, presented at the Economics and Happiness conference at Oxford University yesterday, researchers revealed that freedom does not buy happiness in many countries of the world.

Happiness was measured as the appreciation of one's life and freedom as the chance to choose and the capability to do so.

The study claimed that the Nigerians and Chinese were much happier even though they had little choice in how they lived their lives and had limited economic and political freedom. Average happiness was as high in countries with great income inequality as in nations where income differences were small.

Professor Ruut Veenhoven, of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, conducted the research in 48 countries. "Although personal and political freedom had no impact on the happiness of these people, the opportunity for free trade did relate to higher happiness levels," Professor Veenhoven said.

"This will be a pleasant surprise for the right-wing free-market lobby, but a disappointment for liberals like me."

The study showed that the the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland and Britain were among the happiest nations in the world and also the most free. The happiest country was the Netherlands. Britain was the 11th happiest.

Those in the former Eastern bloc, Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania, were the least happy but not the least free. Americawas the freest followed by Australia, Denmark and Britain.

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