More money not always key to citizens' happiness

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Can money buy happiness?It depends on whom you ask and what criteria you use.

The United States, for example, has some of the richest people in the world, but is only the 18th happiest, according to a GOBankingRates here.Americans make an average annual wage of $46,467, have an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent and pay $1,199 a month, on average, for a one-bedroom apartment.

Thanks in part to the 24-hour news cycle, however, we have more to worry about these days, including gun violence and the political climate.

Who’s No. 1? Finland, according to the study, despite an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent, an annual wage not that far above the U.S., $50,098, and monthly rental of $917, not that much lower than ours.

They clearly have a different attitude than many of us; the sun doesn’t come up at all for 51 days a year, and they pay nearly 31 percent of their personal income in taxes. Politics, economic stability and strong social support are apparently enough to make the difference.

Costa Rica, with an annual wage of $13,512 and an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent, even ranks ahead of the United States at 18, thanks to lower rent, $513 a month, and lower-cost healthcare than the United States. Balmy tropical weather may have something to do with Costa Ricans’ attitude as well.

But Northern European countries lead the happiness chart again as usual, with Norway No. 2 on a wage of $67,964 and unemployment of 4.1 percent, Denmark No. 3 with $79,570 and 4.2 percent, Iceland with $73,431 and 3.9 percent, Switzerland No. 5 on an average $80,068 salary and 3.3 percent unemployment, and Netherland No. 6 with an average annual wage of $44,942 and unemployment of 4.2 percent.

One thing most of the countries leading in “happiness” share is high taxes that go to established universal healthcare and more extensive social services, something Americans are less than willing to embrace, for now.

Only time will tell whether the U.S. can make up its mind which path it wants to take.

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