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« I've got a little list | Main | Do nanny state initiatives actually work? »

Happiness and the nanny state


Following the publication this week of the first Nanny State Index, it has been brought to my attention that Sweden and Finland, the countries that top the European table for excessive regulations on smoking, drinking, eating and vaping, are amongst the happiest in the world.

The idea that people like being told what to do is nothing new. Choice is a burden for some people. It complicates life. Indeed, the worry that you may make the wrong choices creates unnecessary stress. So let the government make those decisions for you.

I understand the theory but whether that makes you happier is a moot point. Meanwhile it's worth pointing out that the UK, which ranks third out of 28 European countries in the Nanny State Index, failed to make it into the top 20 'happiest' countries.

Then again, the Netherlands, which rates highly as one of the world's 'happiest' countries, is near the bottom of the Nanny State Index.

So, what do we make of the inconsistencies? I'll leave you to decide.

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Reader Comments (3)

Sweden has a well established snus tradition, so ecigs won't be as important to them. There is free movement by road to Denmark and thus a plentiful supply of cheap alcohol. There is widespread illegal distilling. They also have a low population density, which always helps.

Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 12:37 | Unregistered Commenterjonathan bagley

Cigarettes aren't hidden away either and there are plenty of brands available. Lots of people, especially young people smoke in Stockholm.

Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 15:54 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

How can "Healthy life expectancy" or "GDP per capita" count towards Happiness? Being happy is an individual perception, whereas life expectancy and GDP per capita are statistical values. Is anybody happier when they take note of statistical values which pertain to a national (!) population?
Does a high GDP of my country make me happier if I know it? What if I don't care about life expectancy in my country? Will I be unhappy?
This whole thing is an exercise in data mining and their is no correlation between this data and my personal feeling of happiness. They didn't even ask people if they were happy because happiness is not measurable.

Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 21:12 | Unregistered CommenterBen

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