Jul 13, 2006
The Straits Times
Happy Planet Index
LONDON - OF ALL the countries in the Asean region, Vietnam has the most to smile about and Singapore the least, according to a list of the happiest countries on the planet.
A new study published yesterday ranked the small South-east Asian country as 12th on a list of 178 nations, beating big-economy behemoths such as Britain and the United States in a survey that measured people's well-being and their impact on the environment.
Singapore, on the other hand, fared the worst of all the Asean and Asian nations ranked, coming in at 131st.
Compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF), the Happy Planet Index painted a different order of world wealth.
Abandoning what it termed 'crude ratings' of countries according to economic indicators like gross domestic product, the NEF intended the new index to strip life back to the basics - measuring life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental impact.
Island nations did well in the rankings, with the tiny South Pacific nation of Vanuatu topping the list. 'People are generally happy here because they are very satisfied with very little,' said Mr Marke Lowen of Vanuatu Online, the republic's online newspaper.
Industrial countries, perhaps unsurprisingly, fared badly on the index - Britain came in at 108th while the US ranked 150th. Most of the bottom 10 countries were African nations, with Zimbabwe coming in last.
'The order of nations that emerges may seem counter-intuitive. But this is because policymakers have been led astray by abstract mathematical models of the economy that bear little relation to the real world,' said NEF's policy director Andrew Simms. -- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS