‘…most of the top 20 “happiest” countries according to the index are in western Europe. So what gives? What do these nations have in common that can somehow explain their prosperity?Being an electoral democracy is virtually a given – of the top 20 most prosperous countries, only Singapore and Hong Kong aren’t democracies. Being small also seems to help. Big countries with heterogeneous populations are more unwieldy; disparate groups make it harder for a society to build social cohesion and trust.What else? They are all borderline socialist states, with generous welfare benefits and lots of redistribution of wealth. Yet they don’t let that socialism cross the line into autocracy. Civil liberties are abundant consider decriminalized drugs and prostitution in the Netherlands. There are few restrictions on the flow of capital or of labor.So where does the United States rank? It’s at 12th place this year, slipping from 10th. According to Legatum, the U.S. has slipped in the areas of governance, personal freedom, and most troubling, in entrepreneurship & opportunity. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, but Legatum notes “a decline in citizens’ perception that working hard gets you ahead.” ‘ (Yahoo! Travel).