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Happy Irish apparently trust leaders
[Posted: Tue 17/04/2007 www.irishhealth.com]
By Angela Long
The Irish are the happiest English-speakers in the European Union, according to a newly-released survey.
We rate third happiest population, after Denmark and Finland, in results from Cambridge University.
Cambridge believes trust in authority might be the key to Irish smiles.
Economists at the top university have been studying contentment levels since 2002. Today’s news, in a release headed ‘Happy Danes are here again’, reflects feelings in 2004. It also counts only 15 members in the EU as enlargement to a 25-nation bloc did not happen until May that year.
Britain came ninth, and the Italians, despite their climate, wine, fashion and antiquities, were bottom of the league.
Twenty thousand responses were analysed. People were asked to rate happiness, life satisfaction and other subjective responses out of 10.
The results showed that women tend to be happier than men, and extreme ages, old and young, are both happier than people in their middle years.
In Scotland, Wales, northern England and south-western England the average score out of 10 for happiness fell to 7.5 in 2004 compared with almost eight in 2002.
The researchers at Cambridge's Faculty of Economics say the slump in British public contentment could be due to flagging trust in the Blair Government and other institutions.
Dr Luisa Corrado, who led the research, said: "The survey shows that trust in society is very, very important. The countries that scored highest for happiness also reported the highest levels of trust in their governments, laws and each other."
Money can, perhaps, not buy you happiness, but it sure helps. A high income in countries where people trust their public institutions, such as Ireland, was the icing on the cake.
However in countries such as Italy, with its history of unstable government and corruption, a high income was no guarantee of happiness, the Cambridge team found.
Despite the glories of Tuscany, Italy was bottom of 15 EU countries in happiness survey
Dr Corrado said policymakers and authorities had to recognise that wealth-creation alone could not guarantee contentment.
"The message to policy-makers is that they should therefore promote social inclusion, because that brings the psychological integration that is essential to happiness," she said.
"One thing that is clear from the report is that it is not enough for governments to focus on improving wealth. Our well-being would be more likely to flourish in a mutually supportive and trusting society. The question is: are governments addressing these issues?"
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