An interview-based correlation of financial satisfaction with overall life satisfaction lists 31 countries. Tanzania has the highest correlation, by far, coming very close to 0.7 on the bar graph. In other words, the wealthy Tanzanians report the strongest satisfaction with their lives. Next is Korea, Bahrain, Jordan, Kenya and Greece, roughly clustered in the 0.4 to 0.5 range. The U.S. comes in at about 0.4, which is high for the wealthy countries in the sample.
Where is the correlation by far the weakest? New Zealand does not even make it past a correlation of 0.1.
I can think of at least three reasons why this correlation might be so low:
1. New Zealanders don’t think you need to be rich to be happy.
2. New Zealanders sense their economy isn’t going anywhere, and so rationalize their forthcoming failure by pretending they will be happy anyway.
3. New Zealanders find it uncouth to admit that money makes you happy.
None of these views bodes well for a country’s commercial dynamism.
Here is my earlier post on why Kiwi growth has been slow.
See the January 2005 Scientific American, p.90, drawing on the research and E. Diener and M. Diener.