Is high pay synonymous with happiness? More likely no than yes. The U.S. is (so far) the richest country in the world, but people there are less happy than in many other, more modest countries. Sweden, for example.
People in Sweden are generally more content than those in the US for a number of reasons. For starters, Swedes enjoy higher levels of paid vacation and parental leave; plus, most people there have access to affordable healthcare and education services. On top of that, Swedes tend to be more trusting of each other — and their government — which creates a sense of security and community that’s just not as evident in the US.
Also, Swedish culture emphasizes prioritizing family time and leisure pursuits over professional obligations, so people are better able to achieve balance between their personal lives and careers. In contrast, many Americans grapple with longer work hours, stagnant wages and anxiety-inducing events like layoffs or unexpected health costs which all make achieving long-term happiness much harder.
How are these parameters measured? There are many rankings on the Web assessing the economic and social well-being of countries. And perhaps one of the most authoritative is the SPI (Social Progress Index).
The Social Progress Index (SPI) is an incredibly valuable attempt to measure, understand and advance progress towards a world that works for all. Using a holistic approach, it assesses countries against indicators in three dimensions:
- Basic Human Needs,
- Foundations of Wellbeing
- and Opportunity.
The SPI is built on the belief that social progress should be measured based on what people actually care about in their lives, instead of traditional measures such as gross domestic product. This helps governments to focus on investments that are key both to improving well being and reducing inequalities; critical factors if they are going to achieve sustainable progress for everyone.
I recently found a dataset on Kaggle with SPI scores by country, and I was curious to analyze it with Python.