It turns out Americans are pretty happy, but nine other nations are a lot happier. While it might not be feasible to pack up and move, you can play the jovial mood with exchange traded funds (ETFs).
Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank that ranks the happiest countries in the world, came out with its 2010 Prosperity Index, based on a number of criteria that promotes happiness and well-being within a country, reports Christopher Helman for Forbes. Each of the 110 countries are ranked on 89 variables, which are sorted by economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital.
The top prosperous countries have an electoral democracy, are small in size, are borderline socialist states, have civil liberties, work under a free-market system, foster entrepreneurship and opportunity and reward hard workers.
Who’s got us beat?
Norway. Based on the variables, Norway is the most prosperous country in the world. The country boasts the highest per capita GDP of $53,000 per year, and its citizens have the second-highest level of satisfaction in living standards, 95% are satisfied with their level of freedom and 74% believe others are trustworthy. Norway is 18.3% of Global X FTSE Nordic 30 (NYSEArca: GXF), but you can get a pure play with Global X FTSE Norway 30 ETF (NYSEArca: NORW).
Denmark. Denmark ranks second as a result of its low business startup costs, great education, civil freedoms and high standards of living. There’s no pure play for Denmark, but it’s a nice 20% of Global X FTSE Nordic 30 (NYSEArca: GXF).
Australia. Australia ranks 4, with an excellent education, high personal freedom, tight-knit society, low startup costs and a trustworthy government. There are two primary ways to invest: iShares MSCI Australia Index (NYSEArca: EWA) and IQ Small-Cap Australia (NYSEArca: KROO).