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By Ray Fleming

A N air of mystery hangs over two of David Cameron's pet projects -- The Big Society whose leader, Lord Wei, resigned this week and the National Happiness Index which has come in for criticism as an odd idea to launch at a time of increasing austerity. As it happens something of the kind already exists; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has just published its latest Better Life Index which measures individuals' well-being in its 36 member countries. There are 20 different indicators of well-being across 14 sectors ranging from subjective judgements of life satisfaction to objective assessment of air pollution.

On a scale of 0 to 10, the happiest countries are found to be Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden in that order in the 8 to 9 sector, while several countries are crowded in the 7 to 8 bracket -- Norway, Denmark, USA, Switzerland and Finland closely followed by Britain and Austria. Five countries are in the 6 to 7 section -- Germany, France, Japan, Spain and Israel. For those who must know -- Turkey is the least-happy nation of the 34.

The most interesting thing about these results is obviously the dominance of three former British Commonwealth countries, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. What well-being qualities did the original settlers take with them from the old country? Are there any left?