Tut, tut. NYtimes. You flunk. This graph was in the Week in Review Section in an article ostensibly about taxes and happiness (go to article to see label of countries on dots – the big red dot in the middle is the US).
I’m sorry, I just don’t see the correlation. It looks like a fucking mess to me.
Then we can start dealing with the old correlation doesn’t mean causation (as suggested in the article). But most of all this analysis is missing some obvious co-variates. How about birth rate, peri-natal maternal death, childhood disease, government oppression, time from the last war fought on their soil, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom of speech (ok, constitution scholars, what’s the fifth freedom in the first amendment?). I bet if you included a few of those factors, then any relationship between taxes and happiness would disappear. But they don’t provide the data, and besides it wouldn’t be such a great story.