Money Can’t Buy Happiness. Or Can It? Ask the 5th Happiest Country in the World.

Vietnam Ranks Fifth in the Happy Planet Index

There’s a popular saying that money can’t buy happiness, but an objective look at how the quality of life has risen for Vietnamese in relation to their economic progress might cause one to reconsider that assertion.

Vietnam ranked fifth in the Happy Planet Index report, which assesses 140 countries and measures factors that contribute to a healthy life, such as life expectancy, wellbeing, inequality and ecological footprint. As only one of three countries with an ecological footprint that is considered environmentally sustainable and an average life expectancy of 75 years old, Vietnam is leading the pack as the happiest country in Asia.

Vietnam even edged out Costa Rica, which was ranked as the overall happiest nation, under the inequality rating that measures wellbeing and life expectancy. Vietnam’s school enrollment is an impressive 98% and the country serves as a worldwide example for poverty reduction since decreasing the amount of people living in poverty from 58% in 1993 to 10.7% in 2010.

So, Money Can’t Buy Happiness or Can It?

In 2015, Vietnam’s economy rose by almost 7%, exceeding even its own government’s expectations. This economic growth is a result of increased foreign investment as well as domestic demand. The government has concentrated its efforts to strengthen the business industry, particularly the private sector, through a rigorous socio-economic development plan that will dramatically increase the country’s productivity between 2016-2020.

The only caution in the report is regarding Vietnam’s currently impressive ecological footprint. If the country continues developing their economy at this rate, it could mean bad news for sustainability in the region. In addition, while income inequality in Vietnam is comparable to other countries, the gap in opportunity and wealth is widening as it becomes a more developed nation.

These are all things to consider as Vietnam positions itself to be the next international tech hub. For the time being however, Vietnam can enjoy its designation as one of the happiest countries on earth, and take note of how its recent economic success has translated to a higher quality of life for its citizens.

So it looks like the jury is still out. What do you think?  Money can’t buy happiness? Or can it?