Happiness means having opportunity – to get an education, to be an entrepreneur. What's more satisfying than having a big idea and turning it into a thriving business, knowing all the way that the harder you work, the more reward you can expect?
With this in mind, six years ago researchers at the Legatum Institute, a London-based nonpartisan think tank, set out to rank the happiest countries in the world. But because "happy" carries too much of a touchy-feely connotation, they call it "prosperity."
The objective of the institute's work (which is part of billionaire Christopher Chandler's Dubai-based Legatum Group) was to figure out what it is that makes happy countries happy – so that the less fortunate corners of the globe might have a benchmark to work toward.
The resulting Legatum Prosperity Index is based on a study of 142 countries comprising 96% of global population. Nations are analyzed and ranked on 89 indicators in eight categories, such as education, government and economics. The inputs for the index are both objective and subjective. It's not enough to just look at per capita GDP or unemployment rates. It also matters how hard people think it is to find jobs, or how convinced they are that hard work can bring success.
5. New Zealand
8. The Netherlands