I've been shouting about how one can live perfectly content lives without humongous GDPs. A country which seems to have done so seems to be Costa Rica.
Nick Kristof writes a good piece in today's NY Times. And here's the Wikipedia article that is necessary for appreciating his piece.
They're the happiest people in the world - and each Costa Rican earns only four times the average Indian (as opposed to the sixteen times that the average American earns).
Adopting Costa Rica as an ideal will be a non-starter in larger countries that need their military. But certainly, what this does tell us is that an emphasis on cheap higher education and health care could very well result in happiness.
Whether happiness is the objective of each democracy is something I am not yet convinced of yet.