Making Stuff Up

So, it turns out that I wasn’t crazy when I couldn’t find Vanuatu in the World Database of Happiness, because it’s not there! Carl Bialik at the WSJ has the story. Apparently NEF just made up Vanuatu’s life satisfaction number by extrapolation from other countries. But, truly, this competely defeats the purpose of self-reported life satisfaction. There are undoubtedly unique aspects of Vanuatu’s culture, economy, climate, character, etc., that would enter into their pattern of self-reports. So it’s pretty funny that Vanuatu “wins” in a much-touted index in part due to numbers the authors made up.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center