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Costa Rica Tops LatAm in U.N. Happiness Report

By on July 31, 2017

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the July 27 print edition of Caribbean Business.

SAN JUAN — The Central American nation of Costa Rica is the happiest country in Latin America, according to the 2017 United Nations’ (U.N.) World Happiness Report, coming in at No. 12 worldwide.

Out of the 155 countries ranked, Scandinavian countries, as usual, came out on top overall: Norway is No. 1, followed by Denmark and Iceland. The rest of the top 10 are (in order): Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. The United States was ranked No. 14.

Since Puerto Rico is not an independent country, it was not included in the annual U.N. report. In terms of Latin American countries, Costa Rica was followed by Chile at No. 20, Brazil at No. 22, Argentina No. 24 and Mexico No. 25. Venezuela, amid economic and political turmoil, was ranked No. 82, while the Caribbean country of the Dominican Republic was ranked No. 86.


“The World Happiness Report continues to draw global attention around the need to create sound policy for what matters most to people—their well-being,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, in a statement. “As demonstrated by many countries, this report gives evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations. It’s time to build social trust and healthy lives, not guns or walls. Let’s hold our leaders to this fact.”

The 2017 World Happiness Report gives special attention to the social foundations of happiness, including happiness in the workplace. “People tend to spend the majority of their lives working, so it is important to understand the role that employment and unemployment play in shaping happiness,” said Prof. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, of Saïd Business School at University of Oxford.

“The research reveals that happiness differs considerably across employment status, job type and industry sectors. People in well-paid roles are happier, but money is only one predictive measure of happiness—work-life balance, job variety and the level of autonomy are other significant drivers. There is a clear distinction in happiness between white- and blue-collar jobs, with managers or professionals evaluating the quality of their lives at a much higher level than those in manual labor jobs,” he said.

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