The 10 happiest countries in the world 2021; why isn’t America one of them?

America, quite likely, will never rise to #1 or even be in the top 10 happiest as long as there is so much animosity and divisiveness in its society.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Happiness is: “a state of mind in which you feel satisfied and fulfilled. It’s a feeling of contentment, that life is just as it should be. Complete happiness, enlightenment, comes when you have all, or most, of your needs satisfied.”

This article lists the 10 happiest countries in the world for 2021. Several other highly respected world organizations present such happiness rankings each year which tend to be very much the same. The Scandinavian countries always seem to be at, or near, the top, along with Switzerland, Austria, and New Zealand.

But why don’t I see America in that top 10 list of countries? Is this a glaring mistake? No, it isn’t a mistake since the U.S. has typically ranked anywhere from 15th to 20th happiest. 

You would think that America, the “richest country in the world” would be filled with the happiest people, wouldn’t you? Let’s set the record straight. America is not the richest country in the world, not at all, that’s no more than a myth, a case of misinformation. 

That’s because a country is made up of all its people, not just the richest. The vast amount of wealth and income in this country is possessed by those at the top, that 1% of Americans. 

Let’s talk about healthcare. There are 32 developed nations in the world and 31 of them have some form of universal healthcare, a system in which every citizen has medical coverage. Guess which of them has no such healthcare system.

You guessed it, the outlier country is the US which doesn’t have one universal system but has five separate ones that are not well-coordinated. There is the private insurance system, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and the Veterans Administration system. 

When I think about this condition the word “convoluted” comes to mind. This convoluted system’s cost per capita is 2 to 2-1/2 times higher than the average per capita cost of the other 31 developed nations.

Why exactly are the people in these happiest countries so very happy? What exactly happens within them that generates such happiness? They are relatively small nations and their societies are not very diverse. 

So, they don’t have the animosity and divisiveness that plagues America’s very diverse society. They seem to know how to live together in peace and harmony.

These high-tax governments spend their money on doing all kinds of beneficial things for their people, not on huge armies and illegal, immoral wars. Besides universal health care systems, most of them have free college education, substantial maternity and paternity leaves, and numerous other benefits.

While taxes are quite high that isn’t a problem for people because it’s been part of their culture for quite some time. They don’t get upset because they appreciate all the good things that these taxes provide them and their fellow citizens, and they gladly and willingly pay them.

I get a big kick out of listening to some people who try to put down or discredit these developed nations’ universal healthcare systems by proclaiming that their people have to wait a long time to get treated for various conditions, or, the medical procedures are not very good.

That’s pure baloney, a crock, and entirely inaccurate. Sure, some of these systems are better than others, sometimes people have to wait for a while to get elective surgery. Sometimes they are not cured of serious conditions, but that is true for any system, anywhere.

To put an end to this kind of misinformation how do we determine which kind of healthcare system is the most effective overall? All we need to do is to check out the lifespans of various countries and see which system seems to be doing the most effective job to prolong lives.

Top 10 happiest countries in the world in order of their position and their life expectancy:

10. Austria 82.05

9. New Zealand 82.40

8. Luxembourg 82.79

7. Sweden 83.33

6. Norway 82.94

5. The Netherlands 82.78

4. Iceland 83.52

3. Switzerland 82.45

2. Denmark 82.40

1. Finland 82.78

Where is America relative to life expectancy? It’s not even close to those top ten happiest countries, it is ranked as position #46 with a lifespan of 79.11. Every one of those 10 happiest countries has some form of universal healthcare in which all citizens are covered. Yet, we hear that the US healthcare system is the best in the world; Sorry to say, the evidence shows that it is not.

I find it so very amusing to hear some politicians or individuals refer to countries like Finland, Denmark, Norway, and others as being “socialists” as if they were some kind of evil entity. First of all, there is nothing at all wrong with socialism, it’s just not at all like capitalism.

 Secondly, these countries are social democracies, not socialists. What is a social democracy? “A social democracy is a political ideology, responsible for promoting the direct intervention of the state in the economy, in the context of a capitalist society. The purpose of this intervention is to be able to redistribute income in a more social way.”

The main goal of a social democracy is to reduce levels of inequality within an economy. That is why it promotes the redistribution of wealth through a complex tax system. 

I recall a remark once made by some official in the Canadian government in answer to criticism by an American reporter that his country’s healthcare system was part of socialism. The official said something like this: “we here in Canada take care of each other; don’t call us Socialists!”

Many Americans have social benefits like Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare but not everyone is so fortunate. That’s a real problem for those who are left out in the cold to fend for themselves.

America, quite likely, will never rise to #1 or even be in the top 10 happiest as long as there is so much animosity and divisiveness in its society, and when white supremacy is still so alive and well. These very troubling societal conditions, unfortunately, do not contribute to happiness.

But, so what, happiness isn’t everything. Who needs it? Right?


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.