Iceland, Sweden, Norway rank top in European Happy Planet Index

July 16, 2007 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Carbon efficiency, Climate change, Economics, Iceland, New Economics Foundation, Norway, Sweden, Well-being | 3 Comments

Iceland is the leader in a league table judging the European country best able to give citizens a long and happy life. Estonia comes bottom of the 30-nation survey while the UK lurks below Romania, at number 21 in the chart.The European Happy Planet Index used carbon efficiency, life satisfaction and life expectancy to rate the countries.

Here are the articles for you, Siri:

and the Friends of the Earth (FoE) press release UK 21st in European league of carbon efficiency and well-being has links to the New Economics Foundation (nef) PDF from which I quote:

nef’s Happy Planet Index (HPI) is a measure of the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered. In an age of climate change, it gives a better picture of the true health and wealth of nations. Using new data this report reveals that Europe is less carbon efficient now than it was 40 years ago at delivering human well-being in terms of relatively happy, long lives to its citizens. The Index explores why some European countries produce well-being at a much higher cost than others. Strikingly, the research reveals that people are just as likely to lead satisfied lives whether their levels of consumption are very low or high. This means there is huge potential to reduce environmentally damaging consumption, and that good lives don’t have to cost the earth.

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  1. Well I am from Iceland, and may I assure you that people are not smiling to each other here at every opportunity. However, we trust each other much more, than they do in other countries, that’s true.

  2. Thanks for your comment, colibrie,

    Trust is very important. I have lived in the UK and the US, and levels of distrust seem to have increased in Britain in the past couple of decades. At least, that is my perception. Some Brits do not seem to trust others the way people used to … I mean my grandparents left their back doors open in town and borrowed cups of sugar from next-door neighbours, and as kids we used to roam the countryside with friends during summer holidays. By contrast, now elderly people are intimidated by youngsters because they don’t understand them and their interests, and many middle aged people seem too busy or stressed out to get involved. For example, if I talk to teenagers in the street, adults think I am risking a potential unnecessary confrontation! Kids have few places to go alone that are considered safe or suitable, and then they are accused of living life indoors watching telly or online. There has to be a happy medium somehow. I do think more people should smile at others when they feel like it and should be encouraged to be more involved in community life, one way or another 🙂

  3. Inel, I totally agree with your point that trust is important. We have an English-language newspaper here, and once I read an article there by a New Yorker living in Reykjavik. She is amazed that people leave cars with keys in the ignition lock, they never lock the doors.. I’m a university student and I’m never afraid to leave my laptop (!) in the library and go away for coffee with friends for half an hour. I’m studying law, and once I was mocked at by a tourist who said to me ‘Do you guys really need lawyers? There is no crime in this country.’ Well there is, but it’s far far less than on mainland Europe.

    That’s why perhaps we’re voted the happiest nation. Iceland is also an established Scandinavian welfare state model, and good state protection definitely makes things easier for citizens. Not for the immigrants, however, and these ‘immigrant issues’ are now widely discussed in the Icelandic media. As far as I’m concerned, the UK has suffered from this problem too, hasn’t it?


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