Rich and Happy

[Cross-posted at Happiness and Public Policy]

Cato intern Jonathan Rick sends me this Washington Times article with news that Americans are slap happy, according to a Harris Poll conducted using the Eurobarometer questions. The new poll has it that Americans are happier than any other people in the world, except for the not-so-gloomy Danes.

The Times chooses to emphasizes high American sastisfaction and optimism relative to Europeans, at the expense of explicitly pointing out that European satisfaction and optimism are rising at a faster clip.

My favorite datum:

While 56 percent of Americans say things are better than in 2000, the number stands at 57 percent in Britain, 60 percent in Sweden and 63 percent in Ireland.

Compare:

The Irish economy, while quite small by EU standards, nonetheless outperformed all OECD countries in real GDP growth over the last six years by a wide margin.

[from Yahoo! Finance]

How did Ireland do it? Here's Ben Powell:

The Celtic Tiger provides an excellent example of how real economic growth occurs – by utilizing market forces to free a flagging economy. After a stagnant 13 year period with less than two percent growth, Ireland took a more radical course of slashing expenditures, abolishing agencies and toppling tax rates and regulations. At the same time the government made credible commitments through EU treaties not to engage in deficit spending.

Ireland's long history of free and open trade has also played a role in its recovery. However, only since freeing other aspects of its economy by lowering taxes, decreasing regulation, maintaining low inflation and providing a stable fiscal environment has Ireland been able to grow rapidly enough to surpass greater Europe's standard of living.

A recipe for happiness?

[Cross-posted at Happiness and Public Policy. Please comment there.]