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Tue May 05 20:18:06 SAST 2015

Zimbabwe is happier than SA

THANDO MGAGA | 18 June, 2012 00:06
Click here for a large version of this infographic
Image by: Happy Planet Index

It's official. South Africans are a grumpy bunch.

This is according to the 2012 Happy Planet Index, which portrayed a gloomy picture of the life-outlook of this country.

The index, released last week, placed South Africa 142nd of 151 countries on experience of wellbeing (happiness), life expectancy (health) and ecological footprint.

Even South Africa's embattled northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, has a better outlook, being in 115th position, with Ethiopia 94th. Botswana occupies the bottom ranking.

The Happy Planet Charter has been endorsed by leading environmentalists, economists and politicians ahead of this week's UN Earth Summit.

Topping the happiness index is Costa Rica, with Vietnam and Colombia in third place.

The U S , Russia, the UK, Germany, Japan and France did not do so well either, with none of them making the top 10.

The US is ranked 105, Russia 122, UK 41, Germany 46, Japan 45 and France is placed 50th.

Nic Marks, of the New Economics Foundation, the creator of the index, said: "The index measures what really matters - long and happy lives now and the potential for good lives in the future.

"For too long we have relied on incomplete measures of progress that focus only on economic activity, such as gross domestic product. Rich and poor nations face different challenges but their ultimate goal is the same," he said.

Foundation senior researcher Saamah Abdalla said that countries such as Costa Rica outrank the UK - and other bigger countries - because their inhabitants live long and happy lives using a fraction of the planet's resources.

"They point the direction towards a development model that can achieve healthy, happy and sustainable lives."

South Africa scored 52.8 on life expectancy, 4.7 on experience of wellbeing, 2.6 on ecological footprint and its index score is 28.2.

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