This is a supplement to my article from Demember 2006 titled The Culture of Success. In that article, I make a detailed case on how certain cultures are far more likely to produce economic prosperity than others. A recent chart from The Economist, however, adds another dimension to this thesis. Economic prosperity is not always a guarantee of happiness. So which cultures generate greater happiness?
It appears that happiness corelates moderately, but not exactly, with economic prosperity, as Japan and South Korea are less happy than Brazil. However, happiness certainly does corelate with Western values. The oldest Democracies, such as the US, Britain, Denmark, etc. are also the happiest countries.
India warrants special mention. While India is a genuine democracy, human development indicators reveal India to be one of the least successful societies in terms of wealth creation, even as it was once the world's wealthiest society for over two thousand years. However, we additionally see from the above chart that India is one of the unhappiest societies in the world. Suffice it to say that Indian culture, with thousands of years of accumulated baggage calcifying into a rocklike rigidity, has mutated into the most efficient machine imaginable for stripping away human happiness. One could scarcely invent a more sophisticated infrastructure for extinguishing the basic joys of life if they tried. The typical American, Australian, or Dane cannot even begin to imagine the sheer variety of obstacles to the pursuit of happiness that can be constructed around the human soul.
Much more will be written on this subject in the future.