Turkey: The Unhappiest Country

Last Updated Jun 23, 2011 8:44 AM EDT

Turkey is the unhappiest country, according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The report grades 34 European Union, North American and other member countries on 11 different criteria designed to measure happiness.

Turkey gets low ratings in a number of categories. Perhaps most important, only 28 percent of Turks say they're satisfied with their life, and only 43 percent expect to be satisfied with their lives five years from now. That's much lower than the across-country average of 59 percent. In most of the happiest countries, the share of people who say they're satisfied with their lives hovers around 90 percent.

Why else does Turkey score so poorly?

  • Education. Only 30 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school diploma.
  • Community. Only 79 percent of Turks believe they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, which is much lower than the OECD average of 91.
  • Longevity. Life expectancy in Turkey, at 73.6 years, is also lower than in other OECD countries. Still Turkey has made great strides in improving life expectancy, increasing the average longevity of its citizens by 25 years between 1960 and 2008.
  • Housing. A surprising 17 percent of Turkish dwellings lack private access to indoor flush toilets. That's the highest rate in the study and compares poorly to the across-country average of 2.8 percent. Turkish homes also tend to be small, with just 0.7 rooms per person.
  • Unemployment. Only 46 percent of the working-age population has a job.
Turkey's not alone in its misery, of course. Here are the ten unhappiest countries, according to the OECD ranking:
  1. Turkey
  2. Mexico
  3. Chile
  4. Estonia
  5. Portugal
  6. Hungary
  7. Slovak Republic
  8. Greece
  9. Korea
  10. Poland
If you don't believe things are really that bad in, say, Portugal, The OECD's Better Life Index allows you to customize the criteria, emphasizing the ones most important to you.

What makes a country happy or unhappy? How happy is your country?

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Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.
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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.