From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
World Economic Forum releases annual IT rankings; US plummets from the top
By Eric Bangeman / April 03, 2007
Europe has pulled into the lead when it comes to the effective use of
information and communication technology (ICT), according to a new
report from the World Economic Forum. Denmark and Sweden top the list,
while the US has slid all the way to seventh place after holding the
top spot in 2005-06.
The WEF’s Global Information Technology Report (GITR) has been
published annually since 2002 and uses a Networked Readiness Index
(NRI) to measure the degree to which countries are able to take
competitive advantage of their ICT resources. The NRI attempts to
quantify each country’s ICT capabilities across three dimensions: the
readiness of governments, businesses, and individuals to effectively
utilize ICT; the general ICT regulatory, business, and infrastructure
environment; and usage of available technology by the above
Denmark has been steadily climbing towards the number one spot in the
GITR, and the report credits government policy there-and in other top-
ranked countries-along with a good system of higher education that
produces technology-savvy graduates.
“Nordic countries have shown how an early focus on education,
innovation and promotion of ICT penetration and diffusion is a winning
strategy for increased networked readiness and competitiveness,” said
WEF Senior Economist and report coeditor Irene Mia. “Denmark, in
particular, has benefited from very effective government e-leadership,
reflected in early liberalization of the telecommunications sector, a
first-rate regulatory framework and large availability of e-government
Higher education is keeping the US in the game; public policy that
hinders technological innovation and overbroad regulation are
responsible for the drop in rankings. “Much of the slip can be
attributed to a relatively complex political and regulatory business
environment,” according to Soumitra Dutta, Dean of External Relations
at INSEAD and another report coeditor.
Dutta also believes that the US is falling behind the curve when it
comes to adopting emerging technologies. He points out that the US is
only ranked 48th when it comes to mobile subscribers. “If you look at
the usage of technology in US business,” opines Dutta, “it is not what
would one would expect.”
Top 10 countries by Networked Readiness Index
Source: World Economic Forum
Country 2006-07 rank 2005-06 rank
Denmark 1 3
Sweden 2 8
Singapore 3 2
Finland 4 5
Switzerland 5 9
Netherlands 6 12
United States 7 1
Iceland 8 4
UK 9 10
Norway 10 13
The biggest movers were the Netherlands, Sweden, and Mexico (at 49).
Estonia leads Eastern Europe at position number 20, up from 23 in the
last report. In Latin America, the top countries were Chile (31, down
from 29), Mexico (49, up from 55), and Brazil (53, down one position).
The most populous Asian countries saw significant drops. China
plummeted eight positions to 59 while India slid four places to 44.
According to the WEF’s report, China’s slide is due primarily to lack
of innovation and the inefficient integration of ICT into value
Looking at the bigger picture, it appears that the rest of the world
is catching up to the US when it comes to the efficient use and
deployment of technology. Countries that are able to combine effective
public policy with infrastructure improvements and technical know-how
will continue to prosper according to the World Economic Forum’s
USED TO BE COLOMBIA
Danes Are the Happiest, Study Says
July 28, 2006 08:48:42 PM PST
By Ed Edelson
Yahoo! Health: Anxiety News
FRIDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) — Piecing together information from
more than 100 studies in the growing field of happiness research, a
British psychologist has produced what he says is the first world map
It ranks 178 countries, with Denmark at the top and the African nation
of Burundi at the bottom. The United States comes in 23rd.
“While happiness is intangible, the scales used in these studies are
very accurate,” said Adrian White, an analytic social psychologist who
is working toward a doctorate at the University of Leicester.
“Happiness research is far from an exact science, but it is the best
way we have of looking at it.”
White analyzed the data in relation to a nation’s health, wealth and
access to education. The United States came in relatively low —
beneath Bhutan, Brunei and Canada, among other countries — in large
part because of health factors. “You don’t have the highest life
expectancy,” he noted.
The biggest mystery is why Japan scored so poorly, 90th on the list,
he said. “Japan scores highly on all of the factors,” White said. “Its
listing is one of the anomalies of the study.”
Smaller nations such as Ireland (11th place), Costa Rica (13) and the
Seychelles (20) tended to score higher because their citizens “have a
greater sense of identity,” White said.
The low scores of so many African countries and Russia (167) can be
explained by “major gaps in both health and education,” he said. The
three bottom countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Zimbabwe and Burundi.
This is not the most formal of studies, White acknowledged. It is
expected to be published in a University of Leicester student journal
and presented at “our own festival of postgraduate research,” he said.
Peyton Craighill of the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., which
published a study this year of happiness among Americans, said,
“Happiness is such a subjective measure. We looked at it over time.
You can see what people say about personal happiness then and now,
what people are reporting happiness, and who are not reporting
One finding of the Pew study that will disappoint romantics was that,
to some extent, money does buy happiness. While 49 percent of
Americans with an annual income over $100,000 reported themselves
happy, only 24 percent of those whose annual income was under $30,000
said the same.
“According to our report, yes, people with higher levels of income
were happier,” Craighill said. “It was a pretty straight line.”
Another important factor uncovered by the Pew researchers was
marriage, with married people consistently reporting themselves
happier than the unattached.
Overall, 34 percent of Americans described themselves as “very happy,”
with 15 percent saying they were “not too happy,” Craighill said.
But, according to White, happiness in the United States and other
developed countries such as Norway (19th place), Germany (35) and
France (62) is measured on a different scale than in less-developed
countries. “When you look at our concerns and compare them with those
of Africans, you can appreciate the difference,” he said.
Are We Happy Yet?
February 13, 2006
Graph: About One Third of Americans Are Very Happy. Americans have
always had a thing about happiness. We all have certain unalienable
rights, declares our Declaration of Independence, among them “life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
So then, a couple of centuries into the chase, how are we doing?
Alas, only so-so. Just a third (34%) of adults in this country say
they’re very happy, according to the latest Pew Research Center
survey. Another half say they are pretty happy and 15% consider
themselves not too happy. These numbers have remained very stable for
a very long time.
But some of us are happier than others, and this variance helps to
paint a portrait of the kind of people Americans are. It also casts
doubt on some of the famous wisdom on the subject.
For example, remember grandma’s aphorism about money not buying
happiness? Well, brace yourself, but dear ole grandma may have been
misinformed. Our survey shows that nearly half (49%) of those with an
annual family income of more than $100,000 say they’re very happy. By
contrast, just 24% of those with an annual family income of less than
$30,000 say they’re very happy.
Graph: Does Money Buy Happiness?This finding definitely puts grandma
on shaky ground, but it doesn’t necessarily prove her wrong. It
establishes a correlation (two things that go hand in hand) rather
than a cause (one thing that leads to the other). There are, in fact,
any number of possible causes of this correlation. Perhaps money leads
to happiness. Perhaps happiness leads to money. Or perhaps both are
influenced by some other, more powerful factor.
Later in this report we’ll try to sort out which correlations are most
powerful. But meantime, we should note at the outset that all of the
findings from this survey should be taken with a general caution.
Much of the research into the field of happiness — to say nothing of
simple common sense – suggests that at the level of the individual,
happiness is heavily influenced by life events (Did you get the big
promotion? Have a fight with your boyfriend?) as well as by
psychological traits (self-esteem, optimism, a sense of belonging, the
capacity to love, etc.). The Pew survey did not look at life events or
psychological characteristics. We only looked at happiness by
demographic and behavioral traits. But through this admittedly limited
prism, we found some fascinating correlations.
Table: About the SurveySeveral of them stand out: Married people are
happier than unmarrieds. People who worship frequently are happier
than those who don’t. Republicans are happier than Democrats. Rich
people are happier than poor people. Whites and Hispanics are happier
than blacks. Sunbelt residents are happier than those who live in the
rest of the country.
We also found some interesting non-correlations. People who have
children are no happier than those who don’t, after controlling for
marital status. Retirees are no happier than workers. Pet owners are
no happier than those without pets.
The findings are drawn from a telephone survey of a nationally
representative, randomly-selected sample of 3,014 adults, conducted
from Oct. 5 through Nov. 6, 2005. You can go directly to the full
battery of happiness tables by clicking on this index. Here is a run-
down of the most compelling findings.
The correlation between happiness and family income is very strong
indeed – reported happiness rises in a nearly straight line through
eight levels of annual family income. At the highest income category
— $150,000 and above – fully 50% of respondents report being very
happy; by contrast, just 23% of those who have a family income below
$20,000 say they are very happy.
But there is also a way to look at the long term trend in happiness
that sheds a different light on the question of whether it is tied to
money. As noted above, about a third of the public has been reporting
they are very happy ever since 1972, when the General Social Survey
(sociological surveys funded largely by the National Science
Foundation) started asking the same happiness question that Pew posed
in its survey. But during these past three decades, the average annual
per capita income in this country has more than doubled in inflation
adjusted dollars. Thus, in the aggregate, Americans have more money
now than they did a generation ago. But in the aggregate, we’re no
So was grandma right after all – money doesn’t buy happiness? Well,
no. The trend data also show that what matters on the happiness front
is not how much money you have, but whether you have more (or less) at
any given time than everyone else.
That raises one more question: how about the really rich? Does the
linear relationship between happiness and income continue right up
into the income stratosphere – with billionaires happier than
millionaires, who in turn are happier than the folks just getting by
on $500,000 a year?
This survey can’t provide an answer; random phone calls don’t generate
a large enough sample of the super rich. So all we can do is fall back
on the wisdom of the popular culture, which is fond of chronicling the
travails of the rich and famous. Of course, we can’t be sure if these
stories are based on a representative sample. But we do notice that
reading them often makes us happy.
Political Party Affiliation
Graph: Republicans Happier than Democrats, IndependentsSome 45% of all
Republicans report being very happy, compared with just 30% of
Democrats and 29% of independents. This finding has also been around a
long time; Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year
since the General Social Survey began taking its measurements in 1972.
Pew surveys since 1991 also show a partisan gap on happiness; the
current 16 percentage point gap is among the largest in Pew surveys,
rivaled only by a 17 point gap in February 2003.
Could it be that Republicans are so much happier now because their
party controls all the levers of federal power? Not likely. Since
1972, the GOP happiness edge over Democrats has ebbed and flowed in a
pattern that appears unrelated to which party is in political power.
For example, Republicans had up to a 10 and 11 percentage point
happiness edge over Democrats in various years of both the Carter and
Clinton presidencies, and as small as a three and five percentage
point edge in various years of the Reagan and first Bush presidencies.
Also, we should explain here a bit about how our survey questionnaire
was constructed. The question about happiness was posed at the very
beginning of the interview, while the question about political
affiliation was posed at the back end, along with questions about
demographic traits. So respondents were not cued to consider their
happiness through the frame of partisan politics. This question is
about happiness; it is not a question about happiness with partisan
Of course, there’s a more obvious explanation for the Republicans’
happiness edge. Republicans tend to have more money than Democrats,
and — as we’ve already discovered — people who have more money tend
to be happier.
But even this explanation only goes so far. If one controls for
household income, Republicans still hold a significant edge: that is,
poor Republicans are happier than poor Democrats; middle-income
Republicans are happier than middle-income Democrats, and rich
Republicans are happier than rich Democrats.
Might ideology be the key? It’s true that conservatives, who are more
likely to be Republican, are happier than liberals, who are more
likely to be Democrats. But even controlling for this ideological
factor, a significant partisan gap remains. Conservative Republicans
are happier than conservative Democrats, and moderate/liberal
Republicans are happier than liberal Democrats. Hmmm, what other
factors might be at play? Well, there’s always…
Graph: Frequent Church-Goers Are HappierPeople who attend religious
services weekly or more are happier (43% very happy) than those who
attend monthly or less (31%); or seldom or never (26%). This
correlation between happiness and frequency of church attendance has
been a consistent finding in the General Social Surveys taken over the
The same pattern applies within all major religious denominations. For
example, 38% of all Catholics who attend church weekly or more report
being very happy, while just 28% of Catholics who attend church less
often say they are very happy. The survey also finds that white
evangelical Protestants (43%) are more likely than white mainline
Protestants (33%) to report being very happy, but this difference goes
away after taking frequency of church attendance into account.
Marital and Parenting Status
Graph: Is Marriage Bliss?Married people (43% very happy) are a good
bit happier than unmarrieds (24%) and this too has been a consistent
finding over many years and many surveys. It holds up for men as well
as for women, and for the old as well as the young, though the
marriage gap in happiness is not quite as great among the old.
Overall, parents are happier than adults who have no children, but
this gap disappears once a person’s marital status is considered. That
is, married people with children are about as happy as married people
without children. And unmarried people with children are about as
happy as unmarried people without children.
Race and Ethnicity
Blacks (28%) are somewhat less likely than whites (36%) or Hispanics
(34%) to report being very happy. The difference in average family
income among the groups appears to be a factor, but it plays out in
different ways for different groups. For non-Hispanic whites, having
more family income is clearly correlated with being happier. (There
are not enough Hispanics in the survey for analysis by income groups.)
But among blacks, there is no correlation – blacks with a family
income of $50,000 a year or more are about equally likely to say they
are very happy (28%) than are blacks with a family income of less than
$50,000 (27%). It’s possible that blacks with incomes much higher than
$50,000 (say $100,000 or more) are happier than others, but there were
not enough of these higher income blacks in our survey for further
analysis on this point.
Age and Gender
There is virtually no difference in happiness by gender and only a bit
of variance in happiness by age. But the age data run counter to the
prevailing ethos of the popular culture, which is forever extolling
the blessings of youth.
It turns out that the young are less happy than the middle-aged or
old. This gap is a bit more pronounced for men, who have a 15
percentage point happiness gap between those who are 18-to-29 years
old and those who are over age 65, than it is for women, among whom
the equivalent gap is just seven percentage points.
Work, Education, Health, Geography, Miscellanceous
Here most of the findings are pretty predictable – healthier people
tend to be happier, and so do better-educated people.
The pattern in happiness by work status is a bit more complicated.
Retirees (36%) and workers (35%) are equally likely to report being
very happy, and both are happier than those who are not employed (26%
very happy). There is a significant gender variance here. Retired men
and retired women are about equally likely to be very happy, as are
working men and working women. But among those who are not employed,
men (16%) are less likely than women (30%) to report being very happy
– presumably because for more women than men, not working outside the
home is a matter of choice.
Recent immigrants are about as happy as those who have been here for
generations. People who often feel rushed are less happy than those
who don’t. Suburbanites are a bit happier than city folks, and Sunbelt
residents are a bit happier than people who live in colder climates.
Putting It All Together
How do all these factors play out together? Well, it can get
complicated. Sometimes the correlations tend to reinforce one another.
For example, healthy people tend to have more income, and both these
traits independently correlate with happiness. But sometimes the
correlations are not in sync. Frequent church-goers, for example, on
average have less income than infrequent church-goers – so their
religious profile pushes them up the happiness scale while their
financial profile pushes them down. Which factor is more powerful? And
is being a Republican really a predictor of happiness, independent of
all other factors?
One way to find out is by way of a statistical technique known as
multiple regression analysis, which gauges the relationship between
each factor and happiness while controlling for all the other factors.
That analysis shows that the most robust correlations of all those
described in this report are health, income, church attendance, being
married and, yes, being a Republican. Indeed, being a Republican is
associated not only with happiness, it is also associated with every
other trait in this cluster. Even so, the factor that makes the most
difference in predicting happiness is neither being a Republican nor
being wealthy – it’s being in good health.
The same regression analysis also finds that education, gender, and
race do not have a statistically significant independent effect on
predicting happiness, once all the other factors are controlled.
Keep in mind, however, that even taking into account all these
factors, we don’t actually improve by very much our ability to predict
which specific individual is likely to be very happy. If we knew who’d
been fired last week, or who’s a glass-is-always-half-full kind of
person, we’d probably do a lot better.
So much for happiness. What about the other side of the coin? Which
Americans are “not too happy”? Well, as one would expect, the unhappy
campers are for the most part the demographic mirror image of the
happy campers. But there are a few wrinkles.
The first has to do with race. As already noted, whites and Hispanics
are about equally likely to say they are very happy, and both groups
are happier than blacks. But looking only at unhappiness, the
relationship between the three groups changes: many fewer whites (12%)
than blacks or Hispanics (each 23%) say they are not too happy.
On the health front, while there’s a strong association between
feeling healthy and happy, there’s an even stronger association
between feeling unhealthy and unhappy. Fully 55% of people who say
their health is poor also report that they are “not too happy.” No
other characteristic measured in this report comes close to rivaling
poor health as a predictor of unhappiness.
The unhappiness data also highlight the plight of another demographic
group — single parents with minor age children. More than a quarter
of them (27%) report being not too happy – by far the largest
percentage for any marital or parenting sub-group in the survey.
A Closing Note on a Delicate Subject
Lastly, we come to what may be the most controversial non-finding of
all. It turns out that there is no significant happiness gap between
dog owners and cat owners. Or between owners of pets of any kind and
those who have no pets. We’re at a loss to explain. We’re just happy –
no, make that very happy — that neither Fido nor Felix can read.
About the Pew Social Trends Reports
The Pew social trends reports explore the behaviors and attitudes of
Americans in key realms of their lives – family, community, health,
finance, work and leisure. Reports analyze changes over time in social
behaviors and probe for differences and similarities between key sub-
groups in the population.
The surveys are conducted by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan
“fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and
trends shaping America and the world.
Survey reports are the result of the collaborative effort of the
social trends staff, which consists of:
Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President
Cary Funk, Senior Project Director
Peyton Craighill, Project Director
We are grateful to our colleagues at the Pew Research Center for
guidance and staff support in preparing this survey report, especially
the staff of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Our
thanks also to the staff at the Princeton Survey Research Associates
International who conducted the survey interviews and data processing
for this survey.