There is a loose positive correlation between happiness and per capita ecological footprint, as well as with freedom and violence. If all these factors are taken into account, then Uruguay and India come out as the best countries in my sample of 44.
How does the United States stack up? It is close to the bottom of the list, with a rank of 41. This is largely due to our high ecological footprint (81 percent of the world maximum). For this, our satisfaction with life is only 74 percent. Colombia is the best ranked country with the greatest “happiness,” at 18 in the list.
I don’t mean to imply that Colombia should be the model for all countries, any more than I expect the U.S. to be. But this exercise does highlight that we should never take for granted that our own situation is always the best.