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Putting a price on happiness, country by country

It’s often said that money can’t buy happiness, even if it certainly helps. In fact, researchers in the US have worked out a “happiness premium” for various countries around the world. For example, they consider that you’ll need some $105,000 per year to be happy in the US.

Scientists from Purdue University previously determined that, on average, people need an income of $170,000 a year in order to feel happy in life. Beyond that amount, anything you earn no longer increases feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

But the price of happiness varies greatly from country to country, whether you live in Japan or Burkina Faso, for example. A new study from Expensivity draws on the scientists’ work to establish a “happiness premium” for 160 countries worldwide. This notably takes into account purchasing power indicators from the World Bank, as well as local cost-of-living data.

It turns out that Bermuda is the country with the highest “happiness premium” at nearly $145,000 — no doubt because the cost of living is apparently 47 percent higher than in New York City. Bermuda is followed by Australia and Israel, where happiness comes at a cost of $135,321 and $130,457 respectively. While Finland tops the list of the world’s happiest countries in the UN-sponsored “World Happiness Report” for the fourth year running, this privileged position comes at a cost — count $103,337 to be “onnellinen” or “happy” in Finnish. For a few dollars more, you can see if the grass is greener in the US, where the “happiness premium” is $105,000. In France, the study estimates that happiness can be found with $89,200 a year.

If your savings don’t stretch to pursuing happiness in Bermuda or Australia, why not try your luck in Suriname. Here, the price of happiness comes in at a considerably more affordable $6,799. Argentina and Angola are also among the countries where happiness is the least expensive, according to the study.

Top 10 countries with the highest “happiness premium”:

1 – Bermuda ($143,933)

2 – Australia ($135,321)

3 – Israel ($130,457)

4 – Switzerland ($128,969)

5 – New Zealand ($128,844)

6 – Norway ($114,147)

7 – Denmark ($109,142)

8 – Japan ($107,587)

9 – Iceland ($107,351)

10 – USA ($105,000)

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