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.

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Filed under: Happiness • On Jack's radar
November 18th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is marriage becoming obsolete?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

People don't say "I do" like they used to.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/11/18/art.wedding.cake.jpg caption=""]
A new poll shows almost 4 in 10 Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete. That’s a sharp increase from the 1970s.

The study done by the Pew Research Center - along with CNN's sister publication Time magazine - shows only about half of adults are married; down sharply from more than 70 percent fifty years ago.

This decline in marriage has happened along class lines, with college graduates being much more likely to still get hitched these days than those with a high school diploma or less. This makes a certain amount of sense given the unstable economy.

As the marriage rate has dropped, cohabitation is on the rise, almost doubling since 1990. Nearly half of all adults say they've lived with a partner out of wedlock at some point, and most of them consider it a step toward marriage

This poll also shows rapidly changing ideas of what makes up an American family. Today nearly 30 percent of children live with a parent or parents who are divorced or not married. That's five times as many as in 1960.

Most people agree a married couple with or without kids constitutes a family, but majorities now also say that unmarried couples - single parents or same-sex couples - with children also fit the definition of family.

Those most likely to accept changing definitions of family include young adults, liberals, secular and unmarried people and blacks. But don't count traditional marriage out yet.

Americans are still more optimistic about the future of marriage and family than they are about the nation's educational system, its economy or its morals and ethics.

Here’s my question to you: Is marriage becoming obsolete?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Happiness • Religion
April 2nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

How would you describe your dream job?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If you could have any job, what would it be?

An Irish travel agency is offering the latest in a series of dream jobs.

Get this: The company RunawayBrideAndGroom.com is looking for "honeymoon testers" - a couple willing to travel around the world for six months and get paid to test out the most romantic wedding and honeymoon destinations.

More than 1,000 couples have already applied.

The so-called job will send them to resorts in Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S.

The winners will have to blog about their experiences... and write for the Irish Times once a month.

The job pays around $27,000.

The deadline is April 7th... so you still have a few days left to apply.

Australia's tourism bureau started this whole dream job craze last year... when it was looking for someone to fill the so-called "best job in the world."

The winner made $140,000 to spend six months on an island in the Great Barrier Reef and blog about it.

The tourism agency got more than 34,000 applicants... not to mention tens of millions of dollars in free publicity.

There have been other similar campaigns too... like one in Florida where a couple was paid to spend several weeks visiting every theme park and attraction in Orlando and write about it; and another sponsored by a California company - looking for someone to be its "wine country lifestyle correspondent."

So - on a Friday evening.... all this got us dreaming ...

Here’s my question to you: How would you describe your dream job?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Happiness
September 17th, 2009
05:41 PM ET

Are you as happy with your job as you were a year ago?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Nearly seven million jobs have been lost since this recession started - but it turns out those Americans out of work aren't the only ones hurting. CNNMoney.com reports that many people still lucky enough to have jobs are unhappy and unmotivated.

For one thing - raises, bonuses and other incentive programs have all but disappeared in a lot of places. There have been cutbacks in things like health insurance and retirement plans. And in many places, fewer employees are left doing more work. In many cases, for less money.

One recent survey shows 40-percent of employees at companies with layoffs say productivity has taken a hit. Of those, two-thirds say morale is hurting and people just aren't as motivated anymore.

Some employers say there's more "slacking off" lately, with employees spending more time surfing the internet or talking on their cell phones than they did when the economy was stronger.

Worker morale is a big part of running a successful business. If a company gets a reputation for being a bad place to work, they then have problems attracting employees once the economy turns around. As a result, they may not be ready to meet increased demand when things improve.

One expert says that employee morale is the "leading predictor of future growth and profitability." She predicts that at some point employers will have to start giving more incentives to their workers.

Here’s my question to you: Are you as happy with your job as you were a year ago?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Happiness
July 2nd, 2008
02:30 PM ET

Why are we happier than 25 years ago?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As we head into the long July Fourth holiday weekend and prepare to celebrate our country's independence, here's something worth noting: Granted economic times are tough here in the U.S. and many countries around the world are grappling with serious issues like food shortages, but it turns out the world is a happier place than it was 25 years ago.

A new government study of 97 countries finds that Denmark is the happiest place on earth followed by Puerto Rico and Colombia, while Zimbabwe ranks last. The United States ranks 16th.

The survey is a pretty simple one, asking people how happy they are and how satisfied they are with their lives as a whole. By this measure, a so-called "Happiness Index" rose in 40 countries – and fell in 12 others – between 1981 and 2007.

Researchers say that the overall rise in happiness in many countries is due to economic growth, the move toward democracy in many countries, and an increase in gender equality and tolerance of minorities in more developed nations. A director of the study says there's a strong correlation between peace and happiness as well as between democracy and happiness.

Money also seems to play a role in the equation: researchers found people living in rich countries tend to be happier than those in poor countries. Almost all of the countries at the bottom of the list have histories of dictatorships along with widespread poverty.

Here’s my question to you: Why are we happier today than we were 25 years ago?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm 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.

Filed under: Happiness