Wednesday, July 12th, 2006
Today the New Economics Foundation ranked Vanuatu the happiest place on earth. To their credit, the innovative Happy Planet Index (HPI) tries to takes into account how well humans turn their resources into what economists like to call “utility” (or “happiness” to the rest of us).
The winner has a great location to be sure, and something in common with others in the top ten happiest countries: massive inequality. Most of the top fifteen happiest countries were in near the bottom of income inquality as measured by the Gini coefficient. You’d think that those folks would’ve noticed the disparity, but perhaps this is a new type of underclass that is just too busy “convert(ing) the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens.”
*Notes: World Rank in Income Equality is based on the Gini Index available for 124 countries as ranked in the 2005 United Nations Human Development Report. Additional sources were used for Vanuatu, St. Lucia, and the Grenadines. No data was available for Dominica (#4 HPI) or Cuba (#6 HPI).