How many of us are happy – or claim to be happy? The counterintuitive conclusion of a poll of 19000 adults in 24 countries, recently reported in the Economist, reveals that some 77 % residents report that they are happy, up 3 points on 2007, the last year before the crisis. Despite global economic gloom, the world is a happier place to be: 22 % describe themselves as very happy. Even better: 28 % of Australian and Americans say they are very happy. Interestingly, the share of very happy people has increased six points in Japan, defying tsunami and nuclear accidents. Obviously, perceived happiness depends on a lot more than material welfare. The highest levels of self-reported happiness are not found in rich countries, as one would expect, but in poor and middle-income ones, e.g. Indonesia, India and Mexico. According to the Economist, the biggest falls in happiness occurred in large emerging markets, in Russia; described as perennial misery guts (i.e. always unhappy and also tries to make others feel negative).
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