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Buffered VPN research shows that the countries with the most internet freedom have a high quality of life: The countries with the most internet freedom have high happiness per capita scores, strong economies, and strong gender equality.

We’ve also found that high national broadband speeds correlate with high national happiness scores. Maybe — contrary to the news you’ve been hearing — internet culture does make us happier.

Who We Are

We’re a European virtual private network service with customers all over the world. We protect our users from invasions of privacy by the government, companies, and hackers. We keep our users anonymous and make sure nobody can snoop on where they browse.

Our business is based on our belief in the free flow of information and ideas. Actually, we think of ourselves as defenders, in one small way, of the human right to free expression.

We think proving as much is essential with recent events, like the end of net neutrality protections in the United States. The end of net neutrality raises the possibility that content filtering, surveillance, and other internet freedom infringements will become common. In turn, reduced U.S. internet freedom could reduce the positive effects of a free internet that we lay out in this post.

The Research

They compiled information from public, trustworthy sources like the United Nations and World Bank. Buffered VPN didn’t collect any of it themselves, but we did explore how internet freedom relates to quality of life indicators that it’s not usually compared with.

The research makes frequent use of the 2016 version of Freedom House’s annual internet freedom study. The 2016 study, which was the most recent data available when we conducted our research, measures factors like obstacles to internet access, content filtering, and human rights violations related to internet use.

To learn more about our methodology and where the data comes from, please refer to the bottom of this page.

Internet Freedom and Happiness Index?

It seems that countries with high levels of internet freedom also have a high happiness score. Seven of the top 15 countries for happiness also rank in the top 15 for internet freedom. Iceland is the top ranking country in both categories, and Canada isn’t far behind. Most of the top countries in both categories are highly developed.

Happiness Index and Broadband Speed

The countries with the fastest internet are also the happiest. Countries with the highest in both categories can be found in the upper right-hand corner. The countries with the best broadband speeds all have a happiness score of more than five. Top countries in both categories aren’t limited to developed countries: Mexico, Colombia, and Azerbaijan each rank above the median in both categories.

Internet Freedom and Gender Equality

The countries with the 10 highest internet freedom scores also rank in the top 15 for gender equality. (The gender equality ranking measures the difference between genders, so a lower number is more desirable.) Once again, utopian Iceland leads both categories. The top countries for internet freedom are highly developed. However, countries 11-15 are all emerging economies. The same is true for countries 11-14 on the gender equality score.

Internet Freedom and Business

The top 10 countries for internet freedom also rank in the top 15 for GDP per capita. Three of the top five countries for GDP per capita are oil or natural gas-rich Gulf states. They also heavily censor their internet and limit free expression. Singapore is wealthy but also limits free expression to a degree.

Source: Buffered VPN

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