The U.S. Does Not Have a Monopoly on Crazy People: What We Can Learn From the 5 Happiest Countries

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The U.S. may not have a monopoly on all the crazy people in the world, but as a country we’re definitely not the happiest. According to U.S.A. Today the U.S. didn’t even come close, as researchers found that the United States ranked 17th out of 34 countries. Sounds similar to our educational test scores.The happiest countries in the world are Austria, Denmark, Canada, Norway and Switzerland. Doug McIntyre, CEO of 24/7 Wallstreet, explains that happiness is measured by several categories.

Income equality is the main reason for unhappiness in the United States, as a large portion of the population in America get paid much less than just a small portion of the wealthy that make the most money.

  1. People live a long time in the given country.
  2. Income distribution is practically even throughout the country.
  3. Hours of work are shorter.

switz_istock_10701919zurichThe statistics and data are gathered by the LACD (Legal Advocates for Consumers in Debt), which conducts an annual research internationally.

For example, Switzerland out of all countries has the highest life expectancy and like the other countries people are paid higher salaries yet they work fewer hours. Healthcare in all of these countries is also superior to that of the United States. Although, Switzerland requires for citizens to pay a portion of the cost of care, a Forbes article boasts that Switzerland has the world’s best health care.

Surprisingly enough, the government spends 2.7 percent of the GDP on healthcare, which is considered one of the lowest globally. The Swiss has universal coverage, low wait time for appointments as well as procedures.

According to the Forbes article, “If the U.S. could move its state health spending to Swiss levels, 1280px-Vorderhopfreben_Üntschenspitze_1it would save more than $700 billion a year.”

Austria also has great healthcare coverage that is set up in a two-tier approach. All Austrians receive free government funded health care or they can choose to pay for their own private insurance.

denmark_istock_bDenmark has one of the most technologically advanced healthcare systems with electronic medical records and electronic based prescriptions for nearly all their citizens. Denmark’s healthcare costs account for 9.7 percent of the GDP, and the central government plays a limited role in healthcare. Municipal and regional taxation methods pay for health insurance. Interestingly, Denmark ranks 78th out of 93 countries in terms of violent crime vs. United States coming in at 30th.

Murder by firearm was dramatically different when comparing the U.S. to that of the above countries, according to NationalMaster. In 1999, 8,226 murders in the U.S. were committed by youth, ranking 3rd out of 72 countries in violence.

In 2002 the United States experienced 9,369 murders by hand gun and ranked 1st out of 168 countries with the highest number of prisoners (2.2 million, or nearly 1 percent of the total population of 268 million).

In 2010 the United States ranked 1st out of 57 countries with the highest amount of rape crimes (84,767).

Meanwhile, Denmark ranked 107th out of 168 countries in 2002 in terms of the total number of prisoners with 3,435 prisoners, or six one-thousandths of a percent of the country’s total population at the time of more than 5.3 million. There were only 40 murders by firearm recorded in Denmark in 2002 Denmark of a ranking of 40th out of 48. Denmark also has very little pollution and a healthy, stable economy.

large_1985_P3095_-_2.5x3.25_-_Norway_Flag_ShieldNorway, like the other countries, has far superior healthcare than the United States. The national budget funds all public hospitals, so all citizens are treated free of charge, and citizens have a right to go to the hospital of their choice. The 2010 murder rate placed Norway 76th out of 86 countries. As of this year it ranked 69th out of 93 countries in crime level, relatively low compared to the U.S.

Being that Norway is a socialist country, there is little disparity in income. There isn’t such a huge gap between a small portion of the very very wealthy and a disproportionately large number of poor. Norway doesn’t battle homelessness the way the U.S. does. Since 1966, the poverty rate in America dropped, however, from 6.2 percent to 4.7 percent in 2012, according to a census repoistock_canadart.

Canada also has publically funded health care and a strong economy with currency that is currently slightly stronger then the U.S. dollar. Crime levels in 2014 places Canada in 53rd place out of 93 countries, according to NationalMaster, once again a far lower crime rate than in the U.S.

Scientists and medical experts haven’t come up with a full-proof happiness formula. However, as of 2014, judging by data from the above five happiest countries, there are similarities. Americans have been known to work longer hours then nearly everyone else, according to an ABC article. Health care is still an expensive and touchy topic, crime rates and gun crimes are at an all-time high, and our national debt is higher than it’s ever been. According to research, approximately 40% of homeless Americans suffer from serious mental illness and/or chronic substance abuse.

Perhaps, as President Obama said, the U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on crazy people. But, our healthcare, unbalanced income and wage gaps, not to mention our increasing homeless population and rise of mental health issues, are all under-addressed problems. These are bipartisan issues that have long since plagued our country and cannot be pegged on one single presidency or political party. Our gun policies, or lack of gun control, are only part of the problem. As the cost of living rises, more students are graduating with bachelor’s and even master’s degrees, yet with the burden of high student loan debt. Many people are then forced to take jobs that still do not pay what one is worth, especially those with higher education. Yet, some employers want to cut corners, expect new recruits to take on numerous tasks at wages that don’t even meet the cost of living. Perhaps it’s our economy that is to blame, as most employers feel that employees ought to be “lucky” to be even working.

iStock_recession_recoveryThe United States is still recovering slowly from the effects of the Great Recession, as our national unemployment rate is slowly dropping and is now at 6.3 percent. It’s not as high as it was, yet it’s obviously not low enough, and employers now are becoming much more strict and rigid with new hires. Some over-qualified candidates are competing for positions that are best suited for rookies, with pay commensurate.

Perhaps happiness isn’t a mathematical equation, but the fact that Americans work longer hours and get paid less than in other countries, says a lot about our level of happiness. No wonder that, as of 2014 we are ranked 17th out of 34 countries, or exactly in the middle of the pack, regarding our happiness level. That’s why it’s important that we all find a way to find inner happiness, not based on what we cannot control, but do our best with what we can.

American boy with the flag of United States



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