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Mexico Is Still a Happy Place to Live

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Restaurant owners in Mexico
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The World Happiness Report 2019 was released a few days ago and it showed once again that Mexico is still a happy place to live. The country ranked 23rd out of 156 nations on the report’s happiness index.

The United Nations began keeping track of how happy citizens of the world are in 2012, showing how the quality of people’s lives can be reliably measured through a happiness index based on these six criteria:

1. Social Support: This measure is based on the Gallup World Poll’s question, “If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them, or not?”

2. Freedom: Freedom to make life choices is based on the Gallup World Poll’s question, “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose and what you do with your life?”

3. Corruption: Perceptions of corruption are the average of binary answers to two Gallup World Poll questions, “Is corruption widespread throughout the government or not?” and “Is corruption widespread within business or not?”

4. Generosity: Generosity is based on responses to the Gallup World Poll question, “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?”

5. Gross Domestic Product (GDP): GDP is taken from the World Bank and reflects what they call Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

6. Healthy Life Expectancy: Data on healthy life expectancy is provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Once again, the Nordic countries dominated the top 10 rankings. Finland was the happiest country in the world, followed closely by Denmark and Norway. Iceland (4), the Netherlands (5), Switzerland (6), Sweden (7), New Zealand (8), Canada (9) and Austria (10) rounded out the leaders. The United States made the top 20, finishing 19th. Costa Rica, ranked 12th, was the highest scoring Latin American country.

The report this year also explored the link between happiness and government, using Mexico as an example of how the happiness of citizens in most countries determines what kind of government they support.

Based on data supplied by the Mexican National Statistical Agency (INEGI), the report showed how happiness criteria can influence elections. For Mexicans, satisfaction was highest for personal relationships and lowest for citizen security. However, overall satisfaction with the country fell about a half point between 2013 and 2017. The report said that despite strong economic activity and employment, the public seemed to be angry and fed up with political leaders who were perceived as unable to solve growing inequalities, corruption, violence and insecurity. “When the election went the way these voters wished,” the report said, “this arguably led to an increase in their life satisfaction.”

Two specific changes, the report noted, seemed to increase happiness in Mexico: The introduction of free long-distance phone calls in 2015 and the presidential election in 2018. The only downward spike in happiness noted was the rise in fuel prices in 2017.

The least happy country in the world was South Sudan, which ranked 156th. The majority of the bottom 10 countries are engaged in conflicts. Other unhappy countries are: Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Syria, Botswana and Haiti.

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