A new way to measure happiness: migration

by Toby Manhire / 17 October, 2013
A Spanish study assesses happiness according to migration - and NZ emerges high up the list.
Happiness is a very good thing, but it can be hellishly difficult to measure. Usually it relies on subjective assessment: if you’re happy and you know it.

A new Spanish study, however, uses different criteria.

“Rather than [simply] asking people whether they're happy,” explains Ben Schiller at Co.Exist, a Fast Company subsite, “it looks at their actions – as revealed by whether they leave or stay in countries.”

The search for other metrics is important, explains Schiller, because, paradoxically, “people are typically poor judges of their own happiness”.

Based on data about migration patterns – and what motivates them – the researchers at Universidad Carlos III rank Hong Kong the happiest (“most desirable”, might be a better way of putting it) country of 112 analysed.

The top 10

1. Hong Kong

2. Singapore

3. New Zealand

4. Switzerland

5. Norway

6. Israel

7. South Korea

8. Sweden

9. Canada

10. Australia


The bottom 10

1. Bolivia

2. Ethiopia

3. Tanzania

4. Cameroon

5. Senegal

6. Kenya

7. Nigeria

8. Afghanistan

9. South Africa

10. China


The latest United Nations World Happiness report (PDF) puts New Zealand at 13th place. Top three are Denmark, Norway and Switzerland.

New Zealand ranks 28th in the latest Happy Planet Index, which includes environmental measures.

See also: The Happy Hunters: the dangers of measuring happiness.
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