ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ranked the 4th saddest country among the world countries, an international report said Thursday.
As for the least happy, least prosperous, saddest countries? Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most miserable part of the world, with eight of the bottom 10. This year the Central African Republic edged out Zimbabwe at the bottom. The two non-African countries in the bottom 10 are Pakistan (No. 107) and Yemen (No. 106), the Legatum Prosperity Index-2011 has said.
The index is evolved on the attributes including prosperity: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.
Norwegians have the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living: 95% say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives; an unparalleled 74% say other people can be trusted.
Joining Norway and Australia in the top 10 are their neighbors Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand. Equally small and civilized Switzerland and the Netherlands are also up there. Rounding out the top 10 is the United States at 10th and Canada (sixth).
These nations have in common that they are electoral democracies. People are naturally happier when they feel like they have a say in how their countries are run. They also have abundant civil liberties (consider decriminalized drugs and prostitution in the Netherlands), though if your happiness is a warm gun you’ll be happier in the U.S. than in Europe. There are few restrictions on the flow of capital or of labor. Legatum’s scholars point out that Denmark (No. 2), for example, has little job protection, but generous unemployment benefits. So business owners can keep the right number of workers, while workers can have a safety net while they muck around looking for that fulfilling job.
Legatum’s researchers note that Australia’s rise from fifth in 2009 to third place exemplifies these positive traits. The Aussies have abolished trade protections, freed labor markets, reformed strict immigration laws and become one of the world’s most flexible economies.
The U.S. stands out with a fifth-place rank in entrepreneurism and first place in health, thanks to the world’s highest level of health spending, great vaccination levels, clean water, plentiful food and beautiful scenery.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the three years of the Legatum Index is India. Since 2009 it has dropped 13 spots to 91st place. Per capita GDP is low at $3,600. Health care is extremely poor with high malnourishment and infant mortality and low vaccination rates. It lags in education with a literacy rate of 64%.
China is not free, birthrates are controlled and the authorities limit public discourse (though India increasingly censors the Internet too). The only areas in which India beats China are in personal freedoms and governance, though India’s legendarily thick red tape is a headache for entrepreneurs.
Ireland and Belgium have sagged two spots in the rankings since 2009; Italy and Greece are down four spots. Legatum’s researchers also noted surprise at a drop in personal freedom rankings in Finland and Sweden, which show slightly less tolerance for immigrants and minorities. Expect worse results for Europe next year.