An excerpt from The Economist (6/4/2012)
One of the more surprising growth industries to have taken off during the current period of economic downturn and austerity has been “the happiness industry”—the increasing activity of economists (not philosophers) who study what constitutes happiness and make recommendations to governments about how best to increase it. This industry has recently achieved an early pinnacle of success with the publication of the first World Happiness Report. Commissioned for a United Nations Conference on Happiness, under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, it bears the imprimatur of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and is edited by the institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs, and two happiness experts, Richard Layard of the London School of Economics and John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia. The report unmemorably finds that the world’s happiest countries world are in northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands) and the most miserable are in Africa (Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, and Sierra Leone).