Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world?
May 30th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The United States once again failed to make the top 10 when it comes to the happiest countries in the world.

The U.S. just missed the cut - ranking 11th in the organization for economic cooperation's recent report on life satisfaction in the developed world.

The survey measured everything from housing, income, and jobs to education, the environment, civic engagement, health and work-life balance.

Denmark ranks as the happiest country on earth - followed by Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, Finland, Australia, Canada and Sweden.

The website 24/7 Wall Street has crunched the numbers in this report to determine the strongest factors related to happiness.

And it's no surprise that economic prosperity tops the list.

Researchers say the overall regional economies of these top 10 countries appear to be doing "exceptionally" well.

Government debt as a percentage of GDP is relatively low. Some of these nations are even running a surplus. Hard to imagine as our country runs $1 trillion-plus annual deficits and is almost $16 trillion in debt.

Employment obviously plays a key role in making people happy, and many of these nations have low unemployment rates.

After economic stability, physical and social well-being factor into happiness.

That includes things like good health, longer life expectancy, strong social support networks and having enough leisure time.

And the survey suggests it ain't all about money. The U.S. has the highest rate of disposable income in the developed world.

But we have a lower life expectancy, low job security and relatively high long-term unemployment.

Here’s my question to you: Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: Happiness • On Jack's radar
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Jen seattle wa

    Becuz Most of the Happiness is a lie Perpetuated by the drugs and alcohol we imbibe on as if its fruits and herbs..Ranked 11th is probably due to the Artificial Happy Hours the workers celebrate as a form of lying to ourselves about how unhappy Free market capitalism 's Non WORking SHareholders Make us when they conspire to skim off all of our work and houses and everything we buy while we are the only ones paying the taxes as our senior elected officials conspire to do special interest favors to the unsustainable industries regurgitating the industrial side of derailed advancement

    May 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  2. Bill of New Mexico

    Americans expect more, and do not learn as well to enjoy life.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  3. Thomas USArmy retired

    We should be #1. We are ok at 11 place. Better than last. I guess we still got a few kinks we need to work out.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  4. Richard

    Perhaps it's because the "bottom line" rules in Americans' lives almost to the exclusion of other joys of life. The working class have no choice, while for the wealthy or those who aspire to be wealthy it's almost a religion. The poor? Let's not even go there. Unfortunately, while this is a ranking among countries, I suspect that in absolute terms happiness may be on the retreat everywhere as this philosophy of squeezing out ever more efficiency and profit spreads and puts stress and strain on people globally.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  5. Gail Snyder

    Universal health care would give many folks peace of mind. Worry over healthcare and its costs is a downer in our society.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  6. Thinkforyourself, OK

    Should we be # 1? The Progressives have so torn down our pursuit of happiness with their constant Political Correctness, Regulations, immorality, victim baiting, race baiting, God and Christian bashing, etc, that it is all we can do to keep ourselves ahead of litigation and criticism.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  7. EdfromMd

    Because our news stations are constantly pumping out bad news and confusing information.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  8. John from Alabama

    Jack: We are 11th, because we let life live us, instead of, living life to the fullest. We do not laugh enough, smile enough, or love enough for happiness to be set in on our being. We are to politically correct to be happy. We agrue to much, and the word compromise has become a bad word. We would rather protect our gun rights, than protect our children from guns. We never know when to say, "a job well done," because we are to busy trying to get ahead. Unhappiness causes divorce, heart attacks and strokes, ulcers, and the worse of all is a closed mind.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  9. JD in NH

    Maybe we're just stupid – have you seen our other rankings? The 1% ought to be happy as clams – they're living large. The rest of us not so much. Most people are living day-to-day just trying to stay ahead of the bills.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Larry in Houston

    If that is the case, Then what is the First ?
    Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world?
    What kind of Question IS THAT ?
    Sounds like we are getting closer to being # 1 if this country keeps on getting poorer & poorer – Remember, the Poorest countries are the ones that don't have much, and are satisfied with little, if anything at all. It's when you give people more & more, they Want More & More.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  11. David, in hot and sunny Tampa

    Are you sure Jack? That high to me, especially among those that are unemployed or under employed or one of the millions suffering from the economic mess this country is in thanks to the Republicans. That aside, we are a nation of industrious folk that take most things in stride and look to the future with optimism. We got through the Great Depression on grit, a wonderful sense of humor and numerous humorists like Will Rogers, Jack Benny and Burns and Allen. Luckily we have our own crop of comedians to see us through these trying times, Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  12. Ed from California

    Thirty million people out-of-work! Trillions in debt,a congress that refuses to do anything that will help us to get out of this mess ( which by the way, they have created themselves just to help their base), million's of house's in foreclosure, crime, gangs, drugs......what's not to be happy about? Boehner, where are the good paying jobs, you promised us??

    May 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  13. Gary in San Jose, California

    Our balance is out of whack. Happy nations have good work life balances, are healthy and secure, and have good environments with strong communities. We need to work less, lay off the junk food, and go outside.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  14. Gary H. Boyd

    America is carrying too much baggage and we're not happy about it Jack. Washington has saddled us all with just to many problems. Bad news abounds - it's everywhere. In the papers, magazines, on TV and the radio.

    Gary Boyd in Scottsdale, Arizona

    May 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  15. Pat in Michigan

    Because the last time I checked we could still express ourselves without the Government or some religious faction killing us for it.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  16. John LaBare, Wantagh, NY

    I do not know if that is good or bad. Terrorist's flying planes into buildings might have put a damper on that spirit of happiness for a while. I am surprised we are not lower than that with the disporportionment of wealth in this country.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  17. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    We are lucky that we are only ranked 11th. We have been involved in two wars for over nine years with the Iraq war just ending. We invaded Iraq because American citizens was told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction only to find out they did not. Our economy came close to going over the cliff into a depression. Less and less people are able to go to college. The wealthy is raking in more money than ever before. The middle class is becoming extinct and we are headed for a two class nation of rich and poor. If Romney gets elected the trickle-down theory will be up and running again. There are many Republicans yelling for more wars. If I was a member of the 1% I would be wondering why we are not ranked number one because I would be happier than hell.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Doug Ericson

    Lies, corruption, debt, and loser wars. People become sad when they realize they have been lied to and used by their Govermnent. There is not enough space to cover all the lies here, and the corruption is reported on every day in the News. The debt is very serious. Congress wants to sweep the debt under the rug somehow but the best they can do is not talk about it. Romney wants folks to believe he can lower the debt, because he has a genius for seperating people from their money, and having that money end up in his bank account. Either that or he has just done a remarkable job of managing his trust fund. In any case, Romney hasn't offered up anything new as to how he is going to reduce the National Debt. There is a good reason for that. He doesn't really know. He just wants you to think he does so he can be Prez. Also, ( I keep adding things as I type), we have lost our innocence as a Nation. We used to think we were morally superior in the 50's and early 60's. Not anymore. We realize now that we are a warring nation. That weighs on most peoples concience. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  19. Shirley, Parry Sound, Ontario

    Perhaps it's for the same reason that the U.S. child poverty rate, of 35 industrialized countries, is 34th. (UNICEF)

    May 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  20. Russ in PA

    How many other countries are boming the heck out of another country? How many other countries have indefinite detention of their own citizens? How many other countries try to spy into the phone and email messages of their citizens? Guess we aren't far off the standard of so many other "free" countries. Perhaps that is why we aren't so happy any longer...

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    May 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  21. Duke from the Crowbar Saloon

    Well, Jack, we Americans rank higher, #2 in fact, just behind Israel, in per capita consumption of anti-depressants, so, shouldn't we be more upbeat? Is our obesity epidemic is causing widespread unhappiness? Could it be our materialism is dragging down our spirits? Or is it that all the time and attention we now spend on iPhones and other high tech devices takes away from our more human pursuits? Like talking eye-to-eye with a loved one, playing a board game with a son and/or daughter, going for an invigorating walk with friends, etc. Let's try this: next time you receive a text, call that person back & engage in voice-to-voice communication, "LOL" just does not beat the sound of laughter, does it?

    May 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  22. Richard Texas

    I have been following this through the years and Demark always comes up on top of the survey. Most likely it is because the people there have such low expectations that it takes very little to make them content.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  23. Shirley, Parry Sound, Ontario

    Americans really grasp the concept of "freedom to", but it is "freedom from" that gives one peace of mind. Some of us live in countries in which we'll never lose our home because of medical expenses. That makes us VERY happy!

    May 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  24. Ralph Spyer

    We pay the most for health care, we have more citizens in jail than any other country in the world' we work the longest hours,our schools are failing,our roads are failing, our government can not pay for medicare and social security much longer with out printing money ; making the money we have worthless.The Federal Reserve the biggest private bank in the world call the shots. The middle east will always be in a state of war and we tie Isreal self intrest with our national intrest.They say 8 percent of Americans are out of work but another 8 percent have given up. We have 10 millions illegals that won;t go home. How in God name can I be happy with Romney or Obama?

    May 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  25. Richard Texas

    I think it would depend on which language they did the survey in Jack. In America we have people that don't even speak English and most poll takers are not multilingual. That aside happiness is a state of mind and Poll takers can not read minds. The last thing I want to do is answer a telephone survey. The things I might say to them would be perceived as anything but happy.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  26. Michael Bindner, Alexandria VA

    I guess it matters what you consider a country. Is the European Union one country or several – and if several, shouldn't European Union member states be considered on the par with individual American states? I somehow don't believe that Sweeden is happier than Hawaii or Rhode Island, although I bet it beats out Arizona and Mississippi by a mile.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  27. Loren, Chicago

    You're kidding, right? For all the benefits of living in this country, it can be lost in a flash without a real safety net to protect us, unless, of course, you're a politician. Take Illinois politicians for example. They've been like hogs at the trough for their pensions, but most voters don't know who to blame, what with the Democrats blaming the Republicans and vice versa. Truth is, we've lost sight of what's made our country great to support a concept of government more at home in Europe than the U.S. Of course, we're not as happy as we should be.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  28. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    Americans wanted to be happier but the level of happiness became a debate issue between the far right and far left and each side embraced the opposing positions.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  29. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    The U.S. didn't make the top ten happy list because the "pursuit of happiness", a phrase built right in to America's founding documents, is guaranteed to make you unhappy.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  30. Riley ODay

    Because we have the best " STUFF ". Most people sleep inside with indoor plumbing and food.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  31. Phyllis G. Williams

    Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world?

    Man is unable to judge happiness. It is a spiritual matter.
    He that feareth the Lord "happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee (Psalm 128)
    "Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord (Psalm 144: 15)
    "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom" (Proverbs 3: 13)
    "Happy is the man whom God correcteth" (Job 5: 17)
    An outward appearance of happiness is sometimes a mere cover-up for emptiness.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  32. Ken in Pinon Hills, California

    Happiness is piece of mind. We have country where we dislike or hate each other because of race, religion, gender, nationality, etc. How can one be happy when angry, and hateful? We see our government collapsing in Washington where our representatives refuse to compromise because the President is partly black. Who is happy with that?
    Joblessness and non-living wages are becoming a way of life for the disappearing middle class
    Then there is this one percent thing and no one is happy with that except the one percent.
    Yeah Jack, there is not much piece of mind out there, the thing that makes us happy.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  33. Annie, Atlanta

    Don't tell the Republican's we're not #1. That usually ramps up the hate mongering.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  34. Pete in Florida

    It means that many of us are not appreciative, thankful and grateful for all that we have, that we've bought into the idea that "too much is never enough", that the politicians and their media lap dogs have succeeded in dividing us, and that a lot of us are gullible and/or ignorant enough to believe whatever they say on biased media outlets. "How do you know when a politican is lying? His mouth is open and his lips are moving." Too many of us keep forgetting that politicians and their parties will say ANYTHING to get elected, and they mean NONE of it.

    May 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  35. al in Delaware

    Is that supposed to be good or bad?

    May 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  36. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    I don't know Jack, perhaphs it's because we are a society of wanting more and working less and when we don't get what we want then we whine. I'm very grateful as happiness is a by-product of doing things for others, expecting nothing in return.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  37. Mark in Topeka

    This may be the result of a highly subjective rating process. If the statement is valid at all, I hope it means that there is a resilient optimism in the American people. Both individually and as a nation, there must be a firm hope that we can work together to find solutions to many difficult problems. We need each othr to be happy and achieve meaningful goals.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  38. Carl Andersen

    Because there are 10 other countries where it is better to live than here.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  39. Connie from Logansport,IN.

    Jack, it must be the drugs.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  40. Barbara from NC

    From listening to all the republican gloom and doom day after day, I'm surprised it's as high as 11.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  41. 1grasshopper

    Because we are made to feel like slaves and buried alive under boulders, being insurance companies,banks, government,oil companies etc.They tell us every move we can make and we have to follow.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  42. Pete in Georgia

    It would have been 3rd or 4th if we didn't have an imposter as President.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  43. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack> One can never be "too happy." And with all that is going on in the US and the world-–hard to find true happiness!

    May 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  44. Jenna Roseville CA

    Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world?

    Because the Republicans and so called Christians are the meanest people on God's Green Earth and they are the only ones being heard in the media.

    If we had Truth In Broadcasting Laws and a New and Improved Fairness Doctrine things would be a lot different. But the Republicans and so called Christians are fighting that tooth and nail. Wonder Why?

    Roseville CA

    May 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  45. calaurore9

    Americans spend more time working to get things with little left to enjoy them with loved ones.

    Carol in Massachusetts

    May 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  46. Chris from Florida

    I am surprised the US is not 111th. Americanism is like a social disease these days. We have spineless politicains, crushing debt, social decay, moral narcosis, waning education systems, and no plan to provide for the younger generations who are working toward a future wich is very bleak. I've heard you say most of this Jon the air Jack. Happy? You have got to be kidding!

    May 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  47. Mark , Oklahoma City, OK

    Simple Jack, We have lots of money in this country and nothing we can buy will bring us real happiness. Many of us lead very empty lives. Our lives are fast paced, our children are spoiled and disrespectful, we have jobs that for most of us are very unsatisfying and we are eating ourselves into triple X Large clothes every day. Maybe I'm missing something but, what have we got to be so HAPPY about?

    May 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  48. Paul in NC

    It's the good health and longer life expectancy. Unless I miss my guess, every one of the top ten countries has national health insurance. Our less than supreme court is about to negate our best attempt at that. Couple that with their ordainment of GWB and the Citizens United fiasco and you've got three very good reasons to be unhappy. Then thre's the economy, the housing market, the Tea Party . . . . It's surprising we are as high as 11th.

    May 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  49. Karl in Flint, MI

    Maybe it's because we are 17th in science and 25th in math, not in the top 10 for life expectancy or infant death rates and we, per capita, pay more then double what those top 10 countries do for health care that isn't in the top 10 in quality? You think???

    May 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  50. Tom in Desoto, TX

    Happy, about what? The rich get tax cuts at the expense of the masses. The military is bloated, countries of the next 15 highest expenditures having a military only equal two thirds of what we spend annually. For what? Have republicans planning the next war on some small country? Our education system is crap, the roads and bridges are falling apart. Water and air quality are getting worse. The U.S. is 11th? I would have thought we'd rake about 25th.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  51. Jim, Denver CO

    Because we have problems, what country doesn't. But it how you deal with those problems and resolve them. And boy do we have issues with how we deal with and solve our problems. That is why american's are unhappy. Too much divisiveness by both parties, too much partisanship by both parties and too much influence by special interest groups up and down the range.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  52. Gigi Oregon

    The one thing these countries have is a national health care policy. And maybe their government representatives earn their pay and don't take bribes from the rich capitalists who really run the United states. We just got Health Care, now the capitalist are financing the Republican party to win the election in order to over turn health care for we the people. I guess we will drop even lower in happiness along with education etc. if they succeed. Which will give more tax breaks to the Elite.

    If they loose maybe we can be in the top ten next year. As for me and my house we are voting for education and health care for all people.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  53. Johnny C (from Los Angeles)

    It is very simple Jack –

    Those countries that are in the top 10 have lower populations and less diversity. Seven of those 10 countries have less than 8 million people, with the exception of the Netherlands (16 mil), Canada (34) & Australia (23). The top 10 are not really affected by the threat of population. The USA, at # 11 is doing well considering that we have over 320 million people and are the most diverse nation on the planet.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  54. Dave, Orlando, FL

    Because we are in ignorant bliss – and we are a bunch of idiots. While money may not be the most important factor, it is way ahead of what’s in second place. And while we may average the highest rate of disposable income, that income belongs to only the 1%. What we are ignorant of is the disaster awaiting our children, grandchildren and their children. If we recognized that fact we wouldn’t be so happy.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  55. Kim, Dodge City, Kansas

    Because we don't have the same controls on immigration that they have. Have you ever tried to move to one of those countries? They operate on a much smaller scale than we do, and they realize that uncontrolled growth in population leads to an irreversable calamity down the road. And they are not really into nation building and being the world wide bully that we are.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  56. Ron WPAFB

    The problem is the division that is being fueled by the GOP. The Republicans would have you believe that the Democrats are Communists and have even said so! Leaders in political parties need to do the Nations work and leave this divisive politics alone. This Republican controlled House has stopped Job Creation time and time again just for Partisan Politics and it's causing dangerous times in the United States!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  57. Angela Charlotte, NC

    Easy Jack, uncertain health care opportunities, poor or non existent labor laws in some states, gridlocked government, non stop negative stressful news on TV, and terrible race and class discrimination. No wonder we are on so many tranquilizers or sleeping tablets!

    May 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  58. Larry in Houston

    The real answer to your question is the fact that we are 16 trillion in hock – and in another 3 years the GDP will get to the point that this country cannot sustain the Debt. This means that people will eventually be putting their money in their mattresses, or digging a hole in the ground somewhere, or wherever they can find a safe place to put their green backs, period. It's coming, Jack, It's coming. The only difference between 1929 or 1930 and 2013 or 2014 will be more people will be going hungry.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  59. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    Compared to the happiest countries, we don't have a social safety net. Republican policies and filibusters not only ended employment for millions, but tried repeatedly to end unemployment compensation. We spend twice what anyone else does on health care though we rank 37th in quality of care. The president's improvements are under Romney/Tea Party threat. Big Oil and Wall Street have had a good run, but if anyone else is happy check what they are smoking.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  60. 2011 Eyes

    It's a surprise we're even ranked at all. The 10 other countries know how to keep their noses out of other countries business and they're smart enough to keep their businesses in their own countries to employ their own people. You're smart not to ask our politicians this question because you wouldn't get an answer until next election.

    Rube (Louisiana)

    May 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  61. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Those countries who rate in the top ten are happy they aren't fighting wars, they leave all the unpleasant details to us.

    May 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  62. Rich in Gainesville FL

    Because we lack unity. It's hard to be happy when politics are as divided as they are. It's hard to be happy when the gap between haves and have-nots is as wide as it is. And it's hard to be happy when these divides are a big part of why we can't reach consensus on solutions to our problems. We don't see each other as fellow American citizens any more, mostly because we no longer agree on what it fundamentally means to be American.

    May 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  63. steve c. in miami

    Because the so called American dream was and is a complete fraud

    May 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  64. steve c. in miami

    Because Americans are a fraud

    May 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  65. Kyle, St. Louis, MO

    Every one of the places that's happier than the US would be called "socialist" by Republicans.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  66. Lee from Wyoming

    11th isn't so bad.... Americans have more to learn about acceptance
    and patience - two "virtues" that aren't as much in our national character as
    in other nations. Remember the saying about getting older and more mellow - older people have learned that waiting and accepting bring down the blood pressure.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  67. clephas

    It probably has something to do with the fact that we are seeing the signs of America's decline everywhere and there is something fundamentally depressing about seeing the 'great enterprise' collapsing slowly under its own weight....

    May 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  68. jk in MN

    Don't most of those countries have single payer health insurnace, Jack? just wondering..........

    May 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  69. Martha Brooks

    The Scandinavian countries are progressive Constitutional Monarchies with a Socialist economy. Everyone gets taken care of. They are also for the most part small and cohesive. So is Israel, although I can't imagine being happy dodging bombs and rockets! Canada and Australia are big countries with less population but lots of natural resources. So the answer is: exile half of our population, anoint a King, adopt Socialism and then we, too, can increase exports of our vast natural resources.

    Martha, Rew, PA

    May 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  70. Jim Charlotte NC

    I heard Limbaugh remark today that there are over 2000 talk shows everyday in America. With the hatred they push how can anyone be happy.

    May 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  71. curtis in philadelphia

    Honestly Jack, I'm surprised we're ranked that high.

    May 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  72. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York


    Only 11th? The tried and true Republican Party voter suppression efforts must not be working -a good sign for the general election. Some of us outside of the top 1% must actually be casting ballots.

    May 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  73. Dan from Stewartstown PA

    Employment feels like indentred servitude; there are constant pressures to perform more highly or lose your job to another country; Insurance companies along with their lawyers and actuaries determine the health treatment you receive; the peoples only voices, Congress and the Executive Branch have been bought; the gap between the rich and poor is larger than it's ever been and the Middle Class is shrinking. Why shouldn't that make us happy? It's akin being raped and not calling it great sex.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  74. Jim


    Probably because citizens of the top ten countries don't have to listen to American Conservative Republican BS every time they turn on a TV or radio or pick up a newspaper.

    Reno, Nevada

    May 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  75. ken from connecticut

    Why Jack? Should we be first? If people knew what was really going on in the world and in this country, it would bring some to tears. It's sad that most people probably wouldn't believe it. Why face the truth? I'll just look at myself in the mirror and see a happy face. I'm surprised we are so high. Another poll. I'm not sure about this one!

    May 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  76. Renee, Illinois

    Maybe the politicians in those countries actually do their jobs instead of finding new and better ways to waste money, fight each other, raise money for themselves, work for the betterment of ALL their people not just a select few . . . you get the idea.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  77. Mark in Houston

    I think there are still enough of us around to remember much better times, and we have some hope, even though weakening, that we can, through some miracle, get back to.."that". Same poll in another 10 years and we'll be lucky to rank somewhere in the bottom ten.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  78. Cal in CA

    Probably the division that exists that is constantly fueled by the media and some politicians. Here, we hate people for having a good union job or because they are poor and need assistance. The people in happier countries? They all pay higher taxes than we do but they know losing their job doesn't mean losing their healthcare. Their governments also don't exist just for the purpose of helping the wealthy become wealthier.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  79. lynnej in nc

    I'm surprised we're not even lower with our greed based system of doing anything.

    Just look, the rich are taking over our political system making it harder for the People's Voice to be heard. One can't afford to get sick much less afford to eat or have a place to stay.

    Got to love this country...

    May 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  80. Michael, from Smiths, Alabama

    Jack, it all boils down to these factors, in my own life, as in many Americans' lives: Tea Party, Donald Trump, Ron Paul, the economy, the fight over Obamacare, and lack of funding in education. Those are my reasons for why the US is only at 11th in happiest country. While we could-and should-do better....it could also be much worse.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  81. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    Really, we are that close to the top in happiness? Does this beat education, financial stability, employment, healthcare standings...compared to other places on the planet ?

    May 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  82. karen- canada

    2 month elections that aren't bought – we all have medical, a good education system, gun control & most of us have good manners whats not to like

    May 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  83. John from Santa Maria, CA

    Americans are always complaining, we are happiest when we are complaining, the rest of the world just wrongfully interprets that as being unhappy, we are actually the happiest country, but we like being #11 so we can complain about it.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  84. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    We are a nation of immigrants – people of hope and promise who think things will always get better. We consider ourselves to be good people who are the first to help other countys in time of disaster. We welcome with open arms, students from other lands anxious for an American education and the experience of living in this county. When I lived in Europe and people would ask me my home county - I was always proud to say "I am an American" and I still feel that same pride. as I am sure by remote Scot ancestors felt when they became American citizens. Perhaps our expectations are too high, our county is too bid, our desire to do well is too much and makes it hard for us to find the happiness we seek. We may rank 11th but it is a beloved privilege to be an American.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  85. WKT1186

    If we can get rid of Obama in November, the US would easily move into the top 5.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  86. Kevin in CA

    Because we aren't as socialist as the happier countries .... oops.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  87. Steve

    There's only one simple answer to this question Jack. Politics...

    May 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  88. Craig

    11th? Out economy sucks, our goverment is the worst and most corrupt in our history, and being protector of the world is not a happy job.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  89. ERNEST

    theres no other way too put it other than blame it on congress...

    May 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  90. Joyce

    Because our politics and politicians have pissed us off too many times and the anger has impeded our happiness

    May 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  91. Aaron in DC

    How is our ranking so high?? Our situation is dire, and at least 1/3 of Americans (Republicans) are hell-bent on making it worse.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  92. Fred

    Why aren't we happier? We take our lead from our political and business leaders. Do they appear to be happy? SURE, they do. Hah!

    South Carolina

    May 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  93. vicky

    Because our leadership is corrupt and do not care about the Country and it's people. It's time that "we the people" overthrow our Government.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  94. James

    because they are to busy makeing other countries happy instead of focuseing on their own

    May 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  95. Ron Balouville CT

    I have your answer Jack, its the Government. All of the elected officials act more immature than most 4 year olds playing in the sand box. also its so depressing seeing the ultra wealthy shelling out multi millions of dollars for an ellection but wont even pay a little more in taxes every year. thats why most americans are depressed.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  96. Kareen Movsesyan

    Income mobility, but more on point the socialist structure of the other ten countries is America is ranked so low. As governments provide basic services and guaranteed necessities at the cost of high taxes, the burden and pressures of maintaining countless payments and insuring you have the best services is non-existent as the government does that for you. America with it's capitalist free market economy does make income mobility easier but we as a people are overwhelmed with choices and thus burden ourselves with debt and desires that cripple our overall happiness.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  97. phil o

    The 10 countries ahead of us ,mostly seem to be snow covered northern places with long days without darkness, maybe that's our problem we are moon mad lunatics, after all we are about to nominate Mitt Romney for President. Do we need more proof

    May 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  98. Craig - Pleasant Valley NY

    11th? Out economy sucks, our goverment is the worst and most corrupt in our history, and being protector of the world is not a happy job. 11th is actually amazing.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  99. Marcia Cook

    Are any of the happiest countries waging war against other people non-stop? Maybe that is an underlying obstacle for us.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  100. Anthony in AZ

    When the U.S. gave up on the Great Society, the top 10 kept going. They enjoy a more holistic focus in their nation, rather than the US focusing on markets.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  101. Martha Campbell

    Because we have 24/7 news coverage, which continually tells us how bad off we are.

    Jamestown, PA

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  102. Laney (Lay-ney), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    Because the top ten Countries have one very familiar thing in common, no it is not common sense, LOL. It is Healthcare, everyone of the top ten countries have a fantastic healthcare and social economic system in place. Just saying:)))))))

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  103. Bob from Bellmore Long Island, New York

    It's about income taxes Jack. I am sure all those countries tax income at a higher rate than we do, I know Norway does. It's about revenue, not cutting everything that matters to people. Yes, they pay higher income taxes, but education and health care are covered. Why wouldn't you be happy.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  104. phil o

    The 10 countries ahead of us ,mostly seem to be snow covered northern places with long days without darkness, maybe that's our problem we are moon mad lunatics, after all we are about to nominate Mitt Romney for President. Do we need more proof!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  105. Louie Campos

    If you listen to politicians of both sides distort the truth, you too will be unhappy.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  106. James N

    Lot of stress not only on US but all over the world. If we have to solve this, lets be like Netherlands and other countries – and make weed legal. If we make weed legal, we will all imagine to be happy

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  107. Michael

    I for one already knew this and will be leaving for one of the countries on your list later this year. It only took me 40 years to see everyone around me dying from all type of illnesses relating to poor health and being over worked. This is not about money Jack, this about knowing how to live your life with happiness as the priority.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  108. Richard From Montreal,Canada


    I think this is due to the fact that the value of American homes our down due to the Democrats past policy of wanting to house everyone with easy loans and failing to regulate Fannie and Freddie.Most Americans have the bulk of their money in their homes,hence the unhappiness.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  109. Dennis, San Francisco

    I'm so tired of these ridiculous questions. Why shouldn't the U.S. be #11. Why do we have to THINK we're #1 in everything. Maybe if we stopped arrogantly thinking were entitled to everything good in the world, we might actually realize we have to work for our happiness, fairness etc. Get over yourself United States, the only thing you lead the world in is not believing in evolution.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  110. Lori

    Because the US does not believe in the family values like most European countries do. For instance the women get a year off for maternity leave with 100 percent pay and they can take up to 6 months more at 60 percent pay. They also get more time off for vacations and they take it. We are only about the mighty dollar.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  111. Phyllis Andrews

    We are not as happy as Denmark and the other northern European countries because we don't eat as well. We eat fast food, junk food, lots of sugar and very large portions. We don't take time to have a relaxing meal. I learned how to eat properly when I lived in Switzerland for six years.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  112. Michael

    Jack, I'm surprised we're even 11th happiest. For as long as I can remember, we've been told in the work world that "we should be happy we just have a job", and that management can fire us whenever they feel like it. Typically, that means so that they can make their quarterly numbers. When you have bosses like that, jobs like that, and health care that is designed to make doctors, nurses, insurance companies, and drug companies very rich, it's amazing that we're happy at all.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  113. Bob Hails

    We've had two wars going on and an economy that went into recession. (Thanks, George Bush.) I'm surprised we rank as high as 11th!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  114. Ed in California

    That poll is misleading, Jack. If you look at the top ten countries many are the ones which do not penalize addictive drugs as much as we do in the U.S. We could probably rise to no. 1 if the government would subsidize Heroine and Cocaine as cash crops. Well at least subsidize drugs as much as we do corn, which only makes people fat, not happy.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Jack.

    As always, only meant in fun. You both have a great day....God Bless!!!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  115. Larry

    Just look at our leadership for the past decade. Who could be happy with those bums spending our money

    May 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  116. Joshua

    Because, we lack the confidents and intelligents to maintain any of the above.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  117. Leo in NC

    One word Jack, GREED. We live in a country where even people who have amassed more wealth than they could spend in 20 lifetimes aren't happy with that and want more. Most of that wealth is built on the backs of the millions of people trying to live just a decent life, but aren't happy with that either. In America, there is never enough.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  118. Richard Thomas

    Because Americans have been fed a diet of B/S and bully beans from day one. The so called happiness is not actualized for most, it is a product of brainwashing and mind control. Tell them they are happy and they are. In reality, life for many Americans ,l is brutal, but they think however bad it is we are in better shape than the rest of the world.Not so.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  119. James Cowan

    It's our politicians, and how they are driving our country into ruin.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  120. Logan in Illinois

    Well Jack, the reason this country is "unhappy" is because of the fact that when we turn on our televisions, we see undeserving, selfish, and lunatic biilionares making a fool of themselves on national television. It seems that money is the reason behind there madness. I wish that I had half of that so I could feel what that is like. And P.S. to Mr. Blitzer, kudos on your entertaining debate with Donald Trump.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  121. Gary

    Gee, you would think American Exceptionalism would get us at least a 5. I guess Canadian Exceptionalism is better.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  122. Richard in Costa Rica

    Unbridled greed, class warfare, fundamentalism, and the power elite in terms of wealth, politics and religion trying to impose their will upon the underrepresented and more trustworthy middle and laboring classes, with little sense of opportunity for the underclasses. We are about dollars (profit motive) and old fashioned (and outdated) religion, not collective bargaining and a fair share for all. The middle and underclasses are just consumers and victims who need to controlled. Stupid isn't it, in the land of opportunity?

    May 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  123. ted wa.

    it's so simple! the only way the politians get votes is to turn one american against another. the repubs say vote for me and I'll oppress gays and pot smokers. the dems say I'll steal and borrow money for you and pretend equality means you get special treatment because of past misdeeds.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  124. Reginald Warfield

    We live in a country where hate, racism, discrimination, and politics is so bad why would anyone want to live here? The only benefit to living here is an immigrant can join the Armed Forces, and go to college. We still deal with issues that are from decades ago that prevent this country from moving forward!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  125. Clive P. in Miami,Fl

    It is quite simple Jack, we have it all backwards in this country,we ignorantly live to work while the rest of the developed world works to truly live.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  126. JAMES


    I find it interesting that the majority of these countries allow same-sex marriage or unions. Perhaps the residents of these countries spend their time enjoying life rather than worrying about what other people do in theirs.


    May 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  127. thebrotherman

    While Denmark is accused of being one of the Wests leading "socialist" countries; there may be something in this accusation. But history informs us that Denmark and the other Scandaavian countries, while capatilistic are not steeped in "individualism" Dating back to the era of Nordic Vikings, "community" has been the leading cultural aspects of their society.
    In short, the community sees to the welfare of its citizens. Can't say that for the "individualism" that is the ethos of American culture, hence, it is your fault if you are poor and need government assistance. Grab those bootstraps-if you have boots.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  128. Jeff Taylor, North Bergen, NJ

    Real easy answer here Jack when you look at the top ten ahaead of us. It is because (other than Israel), not one of the other countries is a "war-mongering' state, where the war machine eats up billions of dollars of expenses and debt.
    These countries do not support a crazy military budget as we do and they all live at peace with the world. While Israel maintains a high military budget, it is partially financed by USA appropriations. Israel can manage to be happy because we help underwrite their military, hence those expenses are not passed on to the populace.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  129. Tom in Olympia, Washington

    The 10 countries on the list that scored higher in happiness than the United States all have national health insurance and better social programs. I lived in Canada for five years and found life there to be much less stressful than in the United States. In Canada you have a safety net and can rest easy knowing that you will be taken care of no matter what happens to you. In countries with national health insurance, low cost prescriptions, subsized nursing homes, you don't have as much stress worrying about how you are going to take care of yourself and your family. I would like to point out that the top 10 countries on the list all have small militaries and tend to take care of their own citizens, rather than try to be the world's policeman like the United States does. If the U.S. spent more money taking care of its own people rather than trying to save the world, Americans would score much higher on the happiness scale.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  130. neil

    Jack – all the countries in the top 10 are miniscule economies in comparison with the US – they have far less social diversity, longer history and are rarely directly involved in modern conflicts. The US is simply too large and diverse to make the top 10 so consequently #11 is a GREAT achievement!

    May 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  131. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – All of the countries in the list have universal health care. Three of them have capitalist economies as much or more so than ours, the others have more socialist economies than we do. They vary in size, but all are much smaller than the US. Most of them actually collect their taxes. All of them have responsible adults running their economies, unlike the stupid ignoramuses who control the Congress of the United States. Their legislatures enact enough tax revenue to pay for their spending, which we have not done since 2001. None of them has a Grover Norquist. Government is popular in countries where government is well run. Well run government means prosperity. Prosperity means happiness. Our political Right Wing is almost wholly responsible for the mess in Washington, which has mired us in economic stagnation, which makes everyone except that same Right Wing miserable. Policy not based on fact must fail. We need to send in the grownups and send the clowns home.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  132. Dabsy

    America has always been dressed in borrowed suite.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  133. Kate in Oregon

    The problem started with Reagan and the idea that the word "tax" is a 4 letter word. Most of the listed countries pay a very high tax rate. But in exchange for that higher rate health care and education are taken care of. Their economy is strong because the debt is low because they have not initiated and bungled two wars nor allowed their corporations to buy the government. We are not happy because we have allowed greed – personal and public – to become more important than the people of this nation.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  134. Raghavan ( from Chicago, IL )

    When I heard the list of criteria,I knew that the list was inaccurate, Jack. The survey wasn't about how happy america is, it was about how much money we have, or how well the economy is! Whenever I go to India, I can tell that the people in India, even though they might not have as much money, are a lot happier than those in the U.S. Whenever a survey like this happens, in which they want to see how people "feel", you have to look at the criteria. Honestly, I would have expected more from you, Jack, and you too Mr. Blitzer, to actually think that by looking at how much money is there, you can tell how happy people are.

    Raghavan from, Chicago

    May 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  135. Bob - Rosenberg, TX

    It's simple. There is not enough emphasis by the government, and definitely not big business on putting the people first. Let's concentrate on getting people employed. If you are working and making a decent living for your family, you are happy. And let's tie education in with this. We need to work to end the drop-out rate in this country. Every person in this country is entitled to happiness. It's one part of our founding fathers vision.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  136. Brooke

    1) we're worked to the bone and still poverty stricken!
    3) a man ate another mans face off because our government refuses to leagalize the natural plant marijuana- so people instead get high on BATH SALTS?!
    4) human beings are refused the right to marry the person they love.
    5) the government continues to restrict women's healthcare rights.
    ...shall I go on?
    Indianapolis, IN

    May 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  137. Jason T. from Virginia

    Because of the 24/7 news cycle. I'm not saying that we should be blind to what is going on, but when Americans tune in to CNN, MSNBC, etc and they get the same depressing news over and over over over again every 15 minutes or less, it can certainly make people less happy. However, you also forgot to mention that we are number 11 out of the 30 or so countries examined in the report, and in my book that's still pretty damn good.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  138. susan

    Those top happiest counties don't have health insurance.....they have health care without the insurance. Education and Health Care are available to all the citizens. The super rich are taxed just as much as the middle class so there is plenty of public income to meet the citizens needs for education and health care without the rip off of Insurance.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  139. Tom Tilgner

    We aren't in the top ten because: "Gasp" those countries are socialistic, what the right considers to be the most terrible thing that can happen to a country.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  140. Keith in Indiana

    I think that most Americans have a misconception of what "happiness" is or should feel like. Society, as a whole, has become complacent with life. We gobble up whatever the media deems as news, are attached to our electronic devices like our lives depend on them, and spend countless hours working ourselves ragged so we can stand in line for 12 hrs to purchase the latest iPhone. The next time we are out in public, unplug from the virtual world and take a look around you and enjoy what is visible without an LCD screen. Listen to a child's laughter, smell the flowers in bloom, watch clouds change shape in the sky, and forget, if only for 10 minutes a day, all the things that clutter our lives with mindless data. Maybe then, our outlook would be different and the citizens of the United States of America would view us as a happier nation.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  141. Petro in Los Angeles

    The US, from individual to country, views our relationship with everything from an ever heightened paranoid perspective. It seems that we are incapable of taking a deep breath and letting out a big "woo saa". How did we become so anxious and angry? With this being said, considering there are 34 member states in the OECD, coming in 11th isn't too bad considering we have schizophrenic tendencies.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  142. Ross

    Actually that might be good that we aren't walking in clover & smelling roses. We are not a "socialist" country (not yet) which many of the Top 10 are. We love it here so why bring more people in to the US? But maybe this will discourage illegal immigrants too. I always believe if you have a good thing, why publish it & ruin it for the rest of us. If Mexico gets better, maybe I will cross the border too–to the south (Canada's too cold!).

    May 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  143. Ricardo Wagner

    Our country ranked as the 11th happiest country in the world because our politicians suck,but I am pretty sure that our politicians will rank number 1 as the happiest politicians in the world.Could you imagine getting a nice paycheck for doing nothing. I would be happy too.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  144. James

    jobs shipped over seas, corporate bailouts, no medicare solution, and a deficit of trillion dollars need I say more

    May 30, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  145. Patrick

    Hello Jack,

    A psychology course I teach at a New York State college explores Positive Psychology, including an entire chapter on happiness. Although the research data and the interpretation of the data may vary, especially when powerful agendas are involved, the research that I have read indicates that economic prosperity is only significantly correlated with happiness if basic needs are not met. After basic needs are met (e.g., food, shelter, education, health care) then an increase in economic prosperity does not appear to influence the happiness of individuals in a meaningful way. However, to provide the basic needs requires that nations be econmically prosperous and thus, there is a difference between interpreting happiness research from the point of view of the individual or the nation. From an individual perspective, the most significant predictors of happiness appear to be social relationships. This results has been shown all over the world, even in very poor countries. This suggests that the individualism of the United States may significantly contribute to the ranking as the 11th Happiest country. Our species evolved for millions of years in small groups of extended families and communties. The farther from that natural state we go, the less happy we may be. As Mother Teresa observed when she visited the United States, we are generally a lonely country.


    New York

    May 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  146. Todd in Chico, CA

    Because we are all working like slaves, running n running just to survive. After 30 years of Conservative trickle down economics, all I've ever seen happen is OUR MIDDLE-CLASS JOBS TRICKLE AWAY!!! Did most Americans really believe the best thing for our country was to break up unions, give huge tax beaks to filthy rich, outsource our jobs, and never ever raise the minimum wage??? Really, are we that dumb? Probably so.. They are selling that STILL on FOX News like hotcakes or new n' improved crack or red white n' blue cool aid.. Yummm...

    May 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  147. Beverly Howze

    As a psychologist, it's always important to factor in the gap between expectations and reality. Could be that we as Americans generally expect and/or demand more. When things fall short, we may have lower tolerance for our sense of having been deprived of something. Americans may have the highest overall set of expectations in the world. If this is true, then during objectively difficult times, we may continue to fall short when it comes to perceived happiness.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  148. Dave - Chicago

    Jack, It's hard to convey a higher sense of happiness, but I've been to six of the top ten, and generally yes, they are in a better place than many of us here in the US. Very little if any worry about losing their jobs, their houses, getting health-care, how they will survive in retirement. That's a whole lot of things not to have to worry about.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  149. Evan

    Dear Jack, We have lost our sense of purpose. In the past, Americans have had the liberty and means to pursue happiness. We no longer have this because of regulations and too many laws. The wealthy can still navigate through all these laws but a regular citizen has to ask the government for permission to do anything anymore. This programs our citizens to rely on government for almost everything. We have become reliant on others and this is hurtful to our American spirit.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  150. Greg Cox of Bremerton, WA

    It's no surprise we are in 11th place. The ten countries ahead of us mind their own business, don't try to police the world, know how to manage their economies, don't have their armies running around the globe, aren't out trying to "make" other countries into democracies and so on and so forth. In fact, I am surprised we are rated 11th. I can think of a few other countries better off than we are.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm |