Out of all the countries surveyed, the top ten were all developing countries—with eight of the ten being Latin American nations. Countries that experienced a high level of poverty and violence ranked the lowest on the list, not surprisingly. However, what Ibbitson notes as particularly interesting is that “above a certain level, money does not, indeed, buy happiness.” As he explains: “Singapore, the fifth wealthiest nation on earth, earned the lowest score of all (46 per cent), while Panama, which ranks 90th in GDP per capita, tied for first.” While having no money certainly contributes negatively to people's level of contentment, it turns out that family and community attribute more to happiness than a hefty paycheque does.
Ibbitson is an expert on Canada and Canadian politics; both as the The Globe and Mail's Ottawa Bureau Chief and as the author of such books as The Big Shift:The Seismic Change in Canadian Politics, Business, And Culture And What It Means for Our Future. In the article, he examines why Canada ranked so high on the list: citing high levels of personal security and freedom in the country as contributing factors, as well as the large immigrant population. Whatever the reasons, Ibbitson says that it's essential to remember the good things we have in life. Even though it is important to analyze our shortcomings and improve on certain things we may be lack—80 per cent of us are happy. And that, he says, is “not bad at all.”