The winter of our content?

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What's the happiest place on Earth? Despite Bardly claims re: Denmark's rottenness, the Danish were ranked a cheery #1 by the University of Leicester's Adrian White, who used data on life expectancy and extensive national surveys to compile a "Map of World Happiness."

Apparently, money is the key to happiness -- as well as great healthcare and education. Wealthy, well-educated populations living in countries with great healthcare systems rank highest, which is why Scandinavian countries like Iceland, Finland and Sweden all made it into the top ten. Interestingly, those same countries are also notorious for elevated suicide rates during winter, though apparently this is due mostly to severe depression related to seasonal affective disorder (owing to a desperate lack of sunshine), and doesn't effect their respective happiness indexes much. Lithuania and Russia, on the other hand, rank #1 and #2, respectively, for having the highest suicide rates in the world -- and it's not because of sunshine (or a lack thereof). Education, healthcare and personal wealth indicators are low there, and accordingly they form an unbroken, yellow blotch of "UNHAPPY" on the big Map. (By the way, the US ranks #23 -- not too bad -- and the UK #41.)

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November 3, 2006 - 9:12am
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