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You Do Not Need Money for Happiness in Mexico

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Baile folklorico in Mexico
Credit: Tipograffias | Shutterstock

A new study by Gallup confirms that you do not need money for happiness in Mexico, or most other countries in Latin America. Mexico is in the very top tier in the world in the newly-released 2019 Gallup Global Emotions report’s Positive Experience Index.

The global research firm asked 151,000 adults in 143 countries last year about five positive and negative experiences on the day before the survey. Gallup says at least seven in 10 people worldwide said they experienced a lot of enjoyment (71 percent), felt well-rested (72 percent), smiled or laughed a lot (74 percent), and felt treated with respect (87 percent). The yes responses from these five questions make up the Positive Experience Index score for each country.

Gallup says Latin American countries once again dominate the list of countries feeling many positive emotions every day, which partly reflects the cultural tendency in the region to focus on life’s positives. The single predictive variable for this measure, Gallup says, is the country of origin.

All Latin American countries were above 80 percent on the Positive Experience Index. Paraguay and Panama shared the #1 spot and Guatemala and Mexico were close behind (84 percent). Indonesia (83 percent) was the only non-Latin American country in the top 10. Honduras (83 percent), Ecuador (82 percent), Costa Rica (81 percent) and Colombia (81 percent) rounded out the happiest countries.

On the negative side, Afghanistan is mired at the very bottom with an index of just 43. Other unhappy countries are: Belarus, Yemen, Turkey, Lithuania, Nepal, Northern Cyprus, Bangladesh, Chad and Egypt.

Since Gallup takes a different approach to determining happiness, it looked at several other studies to see if money buys happiness. The annual World Happiness Report released annually by the United Nations and other global happiness reports generally measure two things: How people see their lives and how they live their lives. The UN report concluded that the richer the country, the higher people rate their lives.

But, researchers at Purdue University and the University of Virginia recently found that “worldwide there appears to be a saturation point with respect to income – about US$100,000 – and that being too rich might actually make you see your life a little worse.” A study by Nobel laureates Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton was also examined by Gallup to see if money buys happiness. That study showed that money has less of an effect on how people live their lives above US$75,000 in the United States. They also noted that the more money Americans make, the higher they rate their lives.

Based on its new study and these additional findings, Gallup asks, “So, if life isn’t about getting rich, then where do the happiest people in the world live?” This report suggests they live in Latin America. Latin Americans may not always rate their lives the best in contrast to the far wealthier Nordic countries (perennial leaders in the UN’s World Happiness Report), but they laugh, smile and experience enjoyment like no one else in the world.

For expats in Mexico, who could ask for more.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This article is very encouraging for my wife and I personally, since we have been planning our Mexican retirement for a year now. All that’s left is for our house to sell.

    I am curious about one thing though. The Central American refugee “caravans” trying to enter the U.S. make the news so often that I can’t help but think that those people weren’t polled. Or is that simply a very small amount of people that is over-reported because it is interesting? Are the gang/crime related issues they are fleeing real or not? I wish I knew the truth.
    And isn’t Nicaragua in the middle of a civil war? Is that also overblown?

    Can any expats in these Central American countries comment?

    Thanks!

  2. My belief is it’s greatly exaggerated in the US for political advantage. Also, those reported caravans are not from Mexico. They only cross Mexico. They are not Mexico’s responsibility. We watch US news on TV here so we know what you’re talking about.

  3. Thank you Dick.
    My wife and I truly are looking forward to our move south. Laughing more, as the article suggests, sounds fantastic. Who wouldn’t want that?

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