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Leonid Bershidsky

Happy Nations Don't Focus on Growth

Policymakers should care more about happiness inequality rather than mere income inequality.
Worry about happiness inequality, be happier.

Worry about happiness inequality, be happier.

Photographer: Roman Gorielov/iStockphoto via Getty Images

The Socialist candidate for the French presidency, Benoit Hamon, says he doesn't believe in the "myth" and "quasi-religion" of growth-- it's part of the "consumerist, productivist and materialist model" of development, he argues. That's outside the economic mainstream, and many see those views as a symptom of the meltdown of the global left. But the just-released Global Happiness Report 2017, produced under the auspices of the United Nations, shows that Hamon just may be ahead of the curve.

Since the project's inception five years ago, small, rich Western European nations have led the list. In this year's ranking, compiled using the last three years of data, they make up the top six, with Norway, Denmark and Iceland leading the world. In terms of growth, these nations have long lagged behind the global level.