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4 September 2017

Over the past week Australian shares were down 0.1% while smaller stocks rose by 1.3%. Shares in developed countries were up 1.1% with the US market up 1.4%. Shares in emerging markets were up 0.6%. The Australian dollar rose by 0.5% to 79.75 US cents. The 10 year bond yield in Australia increased slightly to 2.66% while the US 10 year bond yield was unchanged at 2.16%. The oil price fell 1.2% to 47.29 US dollars per barrel.

Sometimes, if you take the media headlines literally, you may feel that the only thing that matters in life is money. Economists, policymakers and of course the financial sector talk mainly in financial terms, so money appears to be king. Surely happiness is something people strive for, but happiness can be difficult to measure.

The World Happiness Report goes some way to helping. It’s a measure of happiness published by the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In July 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and use this to help guide their public policies. The first World Happiness Report was released in 2012, and is produced annually. The reports feature leading experts in fields such as economics, psychology, survey analysis, and national statistics. They describe how measurements of wellbeing can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.

Which countries are most happy? The five highest ranked countries are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland. Australia is ranked 9th, just behind New Zealand ranked 8th (I wonder if owning the Bledisloe Cup explains the gap!). The US ranks 14th, the UK 19th, while China is 79th.

What makes people happy? The primary reasons identified in research are:

  • economic factors such as income and employment (income equality, or the gap between low and high income earners, is also important here)
  • social factors such as education and family life; and
  • health, both mental and physical

All these points feel intuitive. The weighting between the factors seems to vary across countries.

We can see that while money is important, it’s not the only contributor to happiness in life. At Mine Wealth + Wellbeing we focus on delivering you an excellent retirement outcome, while building trust, and providing assurance and education along the way.

Signing off

David Bell | Chief Investment Officer

Past performance isn't necessarily an indicator of future performance.

All data sourced from Bloomberg.

Sources include World Happiness Report