Costa Rica: First place of Latin America in the 2016 World Happiness Report

Written by María José Blanco
April 21, 2016

In its fourth edition, the World Happiness Report, the one that classifies the countries according to the happiness of its citizens and the subjective sense of well-being, ranked Denmark as the world’s happiest country, and gave Costa Rica the first position of Latin America.

The report stablished six key elements to measure happiness of the countries:

  • People who live in the happiest countries have longer life expectancy.
  • They get more social support.
  • Freedom to take chances and decisions in their lives.
  • Lower perceptions of corruption.
  • They experience more generosity.
  • They have a higher per capita gross domestic product (GDP).

Denmark and Costa Rica had in common some aspects of their respective evaluations; the perception was very similar for both countries in aspects such as social support, life expectancy and GDP per capita. There were also differences in other parts of the evaluation, especially in those related to the perception of generosity and the country’s corruption.

The study also evaluated and ranked other countries of Latin America. Brazil was placed in the 17th position, Mexico in 21st, Chile 24th, Argentina 26th, Uruguay 29th followed by Colombia in the 31st position, Venezuela 44th, Ecuador 51st, Bolivia 59th, Paraguay in the 70th, and Dominican Republic in the 89th  place of the report.

Analyzing Central America, Costa Rica was followed by Panamá in the 25th place of the list, Guatemala in the 39th position, El Salvador 46th, Nicaragua 48th, and in a less favorable place, Honduras ranked in the 104th place.

Globally, the report shows that countries such as Iceland and Ireland represent the best examples of balance because they were capable of maintain their happiness index, despite the economic crisis, thanks to the high levels of social support they register.  

Not everything is about happiness

According to this report, happiness provides a better measurement of human welfare that assessing education, health, poverty, income and good governance separately.

For the present year, the World Happiness Report ranked countries as Syria and Burundi as the “less happy” countries in the list.

Some of the 20 countries that showed a decrease in their happiness index were Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East; Japan and India in Asia, and Cyprus, Spain, Italy, and Greece in Europe. All of them were strongly beaten by the economic crisis and the consequently social affectations.

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