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The World of Speed

Presents the result of a study on different countries to determine which has the fastest way of life. Factors in ranking the countries; Implications of the study.

If you think New York is bustling, you've never lived in Ireland, where the pace of life is second fastest in the world, according to a study of 31 countries conducted by psychologist Robert Levine, Ph.D. Other hectic homelands include Switzerland (1st), Germany (3rd), Japan (4th), and Italy (5th), Levine reports in A Geography of Time (Basic Books). Rounding out the top 10: England, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. The U.S. came in a sluggish 16th, with Canada finishing 17th and Mexico last.

Levine based his rankings on three factors: downtown walking rates, postal speed, and public clock accuracy While this method had quirk—Japanese postal clerks slowed down to wrap a single stamp in a little package—it confirmed that rich, industrialized nations are faster-paced than less developed ones. "Economic success goes with a fast pace of life, but speed is a mixed blessing," says Levine. "People in faster-paced places tend to be more satisfied with their lives, but have more coronary disease." Japan's low heart disease rate is an exception, apparently because the Japanese value hard work but not heart-disease prone Type A personalities. So why is Ireland, a far poorer country, so fast? Perhaps the maritime chill keeps people moving.