World’s Happiest People

Mar 9th, 2012, in Featured, Society, by

Of modest means, relatively, but Indonesia leads the world in levels of reported happiness.

Poor people from countries like Indonesia are happier, according to a poll of 18,687 adults conducted from November 1st to 15th 2011 in 24 countries by Ipsos, a Paris based research company, and published in the suitably named but Canadian “What Makes You Happy” magazine.

World Happiness by Country
A giant among nations

On being asked whether they were “very happy” a thumping 51% of smiling Indonesians answered in the affirmative, well clear of the pretty cheerful Indians and Mexicans (both 43%), with a large gap again down to the Turks and Brazilians each on 30%.

World Happiness Levels by Country
“Very happy” levels, with GDP numbers

A further 42% of Indonesians reported being, if not very happy, “rather happy”, which is close enough, bringing the total happiness level in the country to a staggering 92%.

The average “very happy” percentage for the world as a whole was a meagre 22%; miserable, po-faced Europeans were most responsible for this low figure, with Hungarians and Russians polling only in the single figures, with their wealthier, welfare-cushioned, dying breed cousins to the west like Italians and Frenchmen not faring much better, in the teens.

An unhappy European
A European

Continent-wide Europe managed only a 15% average, with Latin America leading the world in self reported cheeriness at 32% average, followed by North America on 27%, and then all on 24% were Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

Tukul Arwana, a happy fellow
Tukul: a typical “very happy” Indonesian

For Indonesia the triumph of leading the world in the happiness stakes was tempered with the fact that the country saw a sizeable 7% drop in “happiness intensity” from the last time the poll was conducted, in 2007.

People who can’t get enough of these sorts of statistics can view the full PDF report here.

89 Comments on “World’s Happiest People”

  1. camion says:

    Everyone knows that Indonesians have a facial expression of happiness & that Yes really means No..After having travelled around various towns & cities in West Java for a month or so recently,the economic situation for easily 80% of the population is very difficult indeed. Many are just barely feeding themselves & many have debts that will never be paid.The naive lust to enjoy one’s life by any means possible with scant regard for how to pay for it showed to me a lot of misery & unhappiness underneath the surface,protected by a great culture that displays a physical expression of happiness. Sure…many indonesians are doing well & they are quite possibley very happy but a lot of people are not happy as they dont receive any of the rewards that some achieve on the backs of people earning from $40 & up per month. If I was in that situation I dont think I could declare myself as being happy.Pro Rata,the cost of living is far far cheaper in western countries than what the average Indonesian has to endure with their lousy few dollars …I suggest the Paris based Polling group has only managed to contact the upwardly mobile who have access to all the latest electronics to be polled.

  2. Ann says:

    Camion….i agree

  3. deta says:

    This could be that theory of diminishing return of happiness. When people are dirt poor, a little additional earning can make them very content. But when people experience the increasing average incomes, money or wealth makes less and less contribution to their level of happiness, among many other determinants (self actualization, career achievement, physical condition, relationship….. and the type of OS they use for the handphone)

  4. stevo says:

    I think your right deta. I have heard of studies that suggest people who don’t have the (very) basics are often unhappy, but once they have enough, more money does not equall greater happiness.

    I don’t want Arie to tell me off so I had better back that up πŸ™‚

    People say money doesn’t buy happiness. Except, according to a new study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, it sort of does β€” up to about $75,000 a year. The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.

    Read more:,9171,2019628,00.html#ixzz1oa67teUL

    The academic types ( like my mate Arie) have made a “happines equation”

    Wit = ? + ?xit + ?it

    Exciting stuff !

  5. stevo says:

    Whoops, the equation’s symbols did not appear correctly. It shall remain a mystery.

  6. agan says:

    Stevo in case you didn’t get the memo, here is the real McCoy:

    Happiness is when you have
    American salary, German car and Indonesian wife / food.

    Miserable is when you have
    American wife, German food and Indonesian salary/car.

  7. Oigal says:

    You know you have been in Indonesia to long when you when you start admiring the lines on the new Kijang.

  8. BrotherMouzone says:

    “This could be that theory of diminishing return of happiness. When people are dirt poor, a little additional earning can make them very content.”

    To expand on your theory, if you notice the happiest 3 countries are Indonesia, India, and Mexico – countries that – recent issues in Mexico aside – are on the up and up.

    Maybe happiness isn’t about being rich, but it is correlated with being richer than you used to be, or richer than you were during your childhood (but the poor results from financially booming China – 19% – give the lie to my theory). OK, I’ll expand it – all three countries are growing in wealth, have warm climates, and are loosely democratic with a free press and institutions.

  9. noviellya says:

    one thing I know is a genuine smile and laugh along with the jokes are non-formal constitution that is not written in the laws to all citizens of Indonesia does not suffer from stress suspect

  10. stevo says:

    In heaven all the cooks are French and all the engineers are German. In Hell all the cooks are German and the engineers French.

  11. berlian biru says:

    Eat French, drive German, wear Italian, speak English.

  12. camion says:

    BB…this fervent attitude is part of the problem that leads to so much unhappiness. If more people in Indonesia thought & existed inside the circle & not outside there would be far more to share with those looking in to the circle. Within Indonesia the majority never even get to lick the edges of what is an increasingly rich circle for a minority. If more people looked down as they go up there might be a lot more genuinely happy people inside Indonesia.The hedonism bordering on insanity(hey hey the look at me,Ive made it scenario) for some needs to be toned down or one day those who dont even get a sniff or a taste of some luxury in life might come inside the circle to take all that you have squirreled away or wasted.The wealth needs to be shared more fairly to create real happiness I repeat,the majority of Indonesians are not genuinely happy as the foreign poll suggests.You just have to look at the percentage who smoke heavily to relieve the daily stress to survive, not to mention other stimulants.If things dont change for the better for all,then,I give it another ten or twenty years before it all blows up to the detriment of all.

  13. berlian biru says:

    Lighten up camion.

  14. camion says:

    Id love to but my conscience sees the world the way it really is,the madness is worsening hence the desire to prick conscienceness. :-)) Most people dont give a shit !!! :-))

  15. Nay says:

    People can be very happy as long as they are deluded.

  16. stevo says:

    Lighten up camion.

    Stop being so “fervent” BB πŸ™‚

    If we accept the idea that Indonesia is not really so happy, then why do so many folk from the West want to live there?

    I seems that many, on this very site, have voted with their feet.

  17. ET says:

    Once the basic needs are taken care of I believe happiness has more to do with absence of stress than with economic prosperity. Health may also be an important factor and there may also be a correlation with close family ties.

  18. ET says:

    And let’s not forget religion, a very potent happiness drug.

  19. camion says:

    Hey Stevo…the reason so many people from the west want to now live in Indonesia is very simple….Cheap & easy to find sex of every persuasion & leaning including gay & paedophilia,cheap accomodation & furniture ,cheap transport,compliant & obedient women & partners with bodies uncomparable to what most foreigners are exposed to in their home holidays,cheap food & stimulants, & lets not forget the cheap labour that provides all of the aforementioned & much more.And of course,not least,a commercial & legal system as bent as the $2 cop who lets you off your traffic offence.Now why would you want to live anywhere else in the world as this happiness at the dizziest heights was recently proclaimed by the foreign poll….except….for the parking lot traffic system,the noise,filth,pollution,the imported religious nutters,the manipulation & overcharging,the list goes on :-),it becomes a sport,better than sport itself,to be enjoyed every day of your life here…Enjoy.
    Now….how many of you are really happy,I suggest momentarily until the next momentary pleasure. Imagine if you were one of the 80% Indonesians who fantasise about a portion of a westerners life .. Hhhmmmm !!!

  20. stevo says:

    I suspect your right camion. It would be interesting to know the figures for how many Western women want to live in Indonesia, compared with Western men.

  21. camion says:

    The figures are plain for all to see in any Mall,Bar,Hotel or Tourist location. Very few western women are interested in what is basically a very macho subservient one sided culture. Just talk to the staff of any Massage Spa to see what gives happiness to at least 20% of Indonesians. Most womens relationships hang by a thread in reality,including those of the additional wives & girlfriends of whom many are unaffordable to the aspirants who take them on ….with little thought as to why and the consequences.It would be more clever to visit more massage establishments.Its the real screwee come screwor society in every sense of those words πŸ™‚

  22. stevo says:

    Camion, do you think Indonesia would be a better place, if the Western men were not living there?

  23. camion says:

    Many are no different to the local fellas,most come to Indonesia to participate in what has to be the greatest place on earth to enjoy a hedonistic macho life that is extremely cost effective,the local guys know this.Others for more corrupt & fraudulent reasons. In another 10 or 20 years,I see little hope for Indonesia,it will be chaos,chaos for the majority to survive. I hope integrity, discipline, & education will prevent Indonesia from going towards the abyss it seems hellbent on at the moment.The dog eat dog attitude & greed has to change.They need to be far more creative & imaginitive in providing new opportunities & not just simply importing insanely or copying.Next,The ease with which more & more people have access to an automobile needs to be curtailed for a myriad of common sense reasons.Plus the obvious waste of money in other traditional areas that I wont comment about just now.Its absurd to say the least,the damage & division it causes within society.The French Polling group will tell you they are the happiest,I know the are not. Its a frustrated cultural facade in considerable pain.. Just talk to any of the 80% at a grass roots level

  24. stevo says:

    In another 10 or 20 years,I see little hope for Indonesia,it will be chaos,chaos for the majority …

    I wonder what the situation will be in many Western countries in 10 or 20 years. Many of the things you mention are problems all over the world. Some people are questioning the way things are done in West and are getting very vocal about it. Of course that does not change the reality of what you have said regarding Indonesia.

  25. Johnny Lucas says:

    Be sure to check out the entire magazine at
    Keep in mind that this survey is based on people’s response to very specific questions. There is no objective test for happiness (that I know)
    It’s a very interesting topic: What Does Make People Happy – I believe that many different things make people happy for a shorter or longer period. Camion is much too cynical for me, but happiness is very personal. By coincidence, Indonesia is one of my most favourite countries and I am always happy to be there !

  26. ET says:

    I hope integrity, discipline, & education will prevent Indonesia from going towards the abyss it seems hellbent on at the moment

    Discipline? Aren’t you asking too much?

  27. camion says:

    For Indonesia,yes,quite possibley,but,the fuckee / fuckor mentality has to come to an end,from the top down.The problems being generated here will become insurmountable,its spreading at an alarming rate,a sickness gone mad,from very young children & up (imitating the media & community leaders, their parents & those around them) .The proceeds of which is often wastefully or harmfully utilised without any thought but to consume more.

  28. camion says:

    Mr Lucas,I am indeed cynical,for good reason,firstly to draw attention & thought to very important topics.But my opinions are also formed from what Ive experienced on the ground,especially at a grass roots level, whose company I enjoy much more than most westerners company. Im a keen listener & observer of what is eventuating in Indonesia.Possibley,in more polite company,many of my comments are simply not discussed,so many people experience things differently,especially if the social environment is much happier & wealthier.Indonesia is going to become a far more popular country for reasons explained earlier in seeking the “happiness” on offer at a very affordable cost.I assure you,there will be many problems attached in the process.
    I too,think that Indonesia is one of the most interesting countries to be ensconsed,actually it is my favourite.I like many of the people that seem to find their way to me.This page does not offer enough opportunity to discuss in depth all the problems being preserved or raising their ugly heads in Indonesia.You dont have to be very bright to see or experience what they are.It takes millions of people to change things for the better & to ensure some discipline is adopted to keep it that way. Java is too small a location not to change for the better to increase genuine happiness for most.But,I dont think its going to eventuate,knowing human nature the way I do πŸ™‚

  29. bluemoejoe says:

    well … there is not much i can adds up for this threads ….. but i think the main problems is the fulfilment of basic neccesities . if that’s taken care off . everything’s else beyond that’s is irrelevants and goes personal … well for some spending the saturday night without hangs out on ” sheila ” will be hillarious … while a simply a hot coffe and a pack of “samsu” in the afternoon break and sweet smile from my beloved family after the long hard work … is the heaven on earth i’m longing for ….. πŸ™‚

    and again … it’s just a matter of perspective πŸ˜€

  30. Petra Zoffmann says:

    Since 14 years now I travel to South-Lombok in Indonesia. I experience these people in a verxy happy way. What I learned there: to live in the moment. :)))) And these people I see living the moment – no worries about future, no complaining about the past – that makes happy. This is my personal view of Indonesian Sisters and Brothers in Lombok and in Austria too. Love & Peace, Petra

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