Stress in different countries

OECDI wasn’t able to post on Tuesday night because I’ve been very bogged down with the end of the semester. I’ve had to write several papers and complete several projects, all of which have taken up most of my time. I was exhausted last night, but fortunately I’m all done now! That’s a great feeling.

I think stress is a normal thing for students to feel during finals week; it’s practically a universal struggle for all of us, no matter where we’re from. I don’t think stress is any respecter of persons.

Although stress is common throughout the world, it isn’t necessarily evenly dispersed. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) releases life satisfaction indexes for entire countries, which indicate the level of happiness reflected by a the populace of a country. The results are based on surveys in each country. It’s hard to know how accurate these results really are, or how to interpret them. Nevertheless, they provide interesting insights into how certain people view themselves.

You can view some of the life satisfaction indexes by clicking here.

Apparently European nations are very satisfied with their lives. Countries such as Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland top the list. The United States? We have an life satisfaction rating of 7.6, which makes us 12th on the list.

The report is very thorough, analyzing satisfaction in context with health, education, the environment, income, and other factors.

Of course, this study doesn’t necessarily indicate which country is the best in the world; it’s more of an indicator of who is the happiest in their home country. This rating can reflect much more on the culture and general attitude of a people than the actual living conditions. Some people may be completely content with a modest income and a simple lifestyle. Other cultures might be more demanding of the populace, leading people to be perpetually dissatisfied with their current situations.

No matter what the study, it’s always important to analyze what we can actually safely conclude from the data. Also, it’s always important to remember that this kind of information does not necessarily allow us to make generalizations about people from certain countries. If we see that Estonia has a life satisfaction of 1.9, we shouldn’t assume that all Estonians are depressed all the time.

So why are these numbers even useful at all? These statistics can provide us with a lens with with which to interpret our own data we’ve collected on a country. Say a company is trying to sell a smart phone in a country like Spain, where work-life balance is very high. It’s apparent that the people in Spain value a good work-life balance, and therefore a smart phone company can say that its device will increase work efficiency and give and individual more free time.

This is something you’d want to verify with a cross-cultural analyst since there are so many idiosyncratic faux-pas we can commit in each country. However, these statistics can certainly give us a place to start.

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