- Life-satisfaction is assessed by means of surveys in general population samples. See Rank Report Average Happiness .
- In this ranking the focus is not on the level of happiness in the country. but on inequality in happiness among citizens.
Inequality in happiness can be measured by the dispersion of responses to survey-questions on that subject. The degree of dispersion can be expressed statistically in the standard deviation. Surveys items rated on a 0-10 step numerical scale are particularly useful for that purpose.
This method is explained in more detail in W. Kalmijn & R. Veenhoven Measuring inequality in happiness in nations; In search for proper statistics, Journal of Happiness Studies 2005, 6:357-396
An application of this method is reported in Veenhoven. R. Return of inequality in modern society? Test by dispersion of life satisfaction across time and nations, Journal of Happiness Studies 2005, 6:457-487.
- The scores are based on responses to a question about satisfaction with life, answers to which were rated on a numerical scale ranging from ‘dissatisfied’ to ‘satisfied’. The questions differ slightly in wording and answer format.
– Most questions are type O-SLW/c/sq/n/10/a (used in World Value Surveys) and O-SLW/c/sq/n/11/a (used in Gallup World Poll up to 2006).
– This classification is explained in section 4/3 of the introductory text. Data were taken from the two tables with measure types regarding the 10-step numeral Life-Satisfaction and the 11-step numeral Life-Satisfaction from this collection of distributional findings on Happiness in Nations._
– Rating scales ranged from 1 to 10 or from 0 to 10. Scores on this 1-10 scale were transformed linearly to range 0-10. This transformation in explained in the introductory text, chapter 7.3.
- Standard deviations of 65 nations are based on responses to a somewhat different question:
Suppose the top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder the worst possible life. Where on this ladder do you feel you personally stand at the present time?
The response was rated on a ladder scale ranging from 0 to 10. (measure code C-BW/c/sq/l/11/c).
We transformed the scores using the information of nations in which both this item and the above question on life-satisfaction had been used in about the same years. There are 398 such cases from 134 countries. The standard-deviations of the responses on the two items appears to be highly correlated: r = +.55. Visual inspection of the scatter-plot shows a linear pattern. We computed a regression equation and used these to estimate the standard-deviation on 0-10 life-satisfaction. The resulting formula is:
Estimated SD 0-10 life satisfaction = 1.112 + 0.5552 x observed SD on the Best-Worst item.
These estimates are reported in this rank report for nations for which observed standard deviations are not available. The 95% confidence interval around these estimated values is about 1 point. which means that these estimates are quite rough.
This estimation technique is described in more detail in the Introductory Text. to the collection of Distributional findings on Happiness in Nations chapter 7 ‘How the data are homogenized‘ in section 7/3.1 ‘Converting scores on measures of different happiness variants’.
- Standard deviations are not yet available for 3 countries for which average happiness is known, but an observed or estimated standard-deviation on this scale and period is not available (Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta)
- This list is included in the data file ‘States of nations‘ as variable SD_HappinessLSBW10.11_2010s.
Rank report on Inequality of Happiness in nations in the 2010s