Where is the Happiest Place on Earth?
Where do you think is the happiest place on Earth? Maybe you think UK folks are the cheeriest, or that the US is the most merry. Well, what if we told you that neither of these places even made it into the top ten?
The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index compiled data from 135 countries last year and found that the country with the happiest people is – drumroll, please – Panama!
When measuring a country’s overall well-being, most surveys focus on economic factors, without giving much consideration to other measures, such as education, health or security, which all contribute to a person’s happiness.
“When we ask people to think about how their lives are going, to report on their daily emotions, and to tell us about their health, we gain a much broader picture of their well-being,” explained Professor Angus Deaton, a scientist for Gallup-Healthways and author of the report.
So how was the report worked out?
More than 133,000 face-to-face or phone interviews were conducted with people from around the world, who were asked to rate five different elements in their life.
These elements were ‘purpose’ (liking what you do on a daily basis and having motivation to achieve your goals), ‘social’ (having love in your life and supportive relationships), ‘financial’ (being able to manage your economic life in order to reduce stress and increase security), ‘community’ (liking and feeling safe where you live and having pride in your community), and ‘physical’ (being in good health and having enough energy to get things done every day).
Based on the answers they gave, interviewees were then placed into one of three categories for each element – they were either ‘thriving’, ‘struggling’ or ‘suffering’.
Sweden came out top for the ‘financial’ element, with 72% of Swedish people feeling they are “thriving” when it comes to their finances. But every other element saw Panama at the top.
“Panama’s strong and growing economy, an unemployment rate of 4.5% in 2013, and national development may be the most significant factors contributing to its thriving levels,” said Gallup-Healthways officials.
Generally speaking, Latin America seems like the place to be with six of the world’s top ten happiest countries coming from that region. According to the officials, this is consistent with other research they have carried out, in which Latin-American people evaluate their lives more highly than people from other regional groups, “partly reflecting a cultural tendency in the region to focus on the positives in life”.
Gallup-Healthways’ research shows that countries that have a higher rating of well-being are not only generally happier and healthier, but all work harder and are better able to recover from problems than people from countries with a lower rating.
So, here are the ten happiest countries in the world (the countries with the highest percentage of people who are ‘thriving’ in three or more elements):
- Panama (61%)
- Costa Rica (44%)
- Denmark (40%)
- Austria (39%)
- Brazil (39%)
- El Salvador (37%)
- Uruguay (37%)
- Sweden (36%)
- Canada (34%)
- Guatemala (34%)
For those interested, the US narrowly missed out on a top ten place, coming 12th with 33% of ‘thriving’ people, while the UK came in at number 26 with 28%. Maybe it’s time to emigrate to sunnier climes, or perhaps we simply need to work on our personal happiness and well-being from home…