Vietnam World’s Fifth Happiest Country, For Now

JUL 25, 2016  Brett Davis  CONTRIBUTOR

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Vietnam has been ranked the fifth happiest country in the world
in a study by the UK think tank the New Economics Foundation.

The Happy Planet Index report measured elements that contribute towards a happy life in 140 countries and looked at factors such as life expectancy, wellbeing, inequality and ecological footprint. The list was topped by Costa Rica, followed by Mexico, Columbia and Vanuatu, making Vietnam the happiest country in Asia.

A lady with her baby stands outside in the rain to get a glimpse of US President Barack Obama as he visits a local shopping district in Hanoi on May 24, 2016. (Photo JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Life expectancy in Vietnam is a healthy 75.5 years, not bad at all for a developing nation. By way of comparison, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years (overall the US ranked as the 108th happiest country).

Wellbeing measure how people view their quality of life, while inequality looked at how unequal the distribution of life expectance and experienced wellbeing results were within a country. Vietnam’s score in the latter category was actually better than Costa Rica’s, and was attributed in large part to the strong provision of public services such as education. School enrolments in Vietnam, at 98 percent, are among the highest in the world.

Vietnam has also done a great job of reducing poverty. In the early 90s more than half the population lived below the poverty line, it is now in the single digits. At the same time, the country’s ecological foot print is very low. This measure of consumption gauges the land area needed to produce the resources to sustain each person, with Vietnam coming in at 1.7 global hectares per person. This made it one of the few nations with an ecological footprint that could be considered actually sustainable.

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