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UN Report: Mexico is Happier than 3 Out of 4 Other Countries

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Ten years ago, the United Nations proclaimed March 20 to be the International Day of Happiness and set out to measure the happiness of the people in 137 countries based on six key measurements. This year, Finland is on top again for the sixth straight year, but impressively, Mexico is happier than 3 out of 4 other countries.

Mexico was ranked 36th in the U.N.’s World Happiness Report, which places it in the top 26 percent of all nations surveyed. The U.S. – ranked 15th – fell far below the Scandinavian countries, which perennially top the happiness chart.

Behind Finland at number two is Denmark, followed by Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg and New Zealand rounding out the top 10. The bottom of the Happiness Report is populated primarily by mainly war-torn nations. Afghanistan occupies the lowest rung of the report.

The United Nations measures happiness through a nationally-representative sample of people to find out how satisfied they are with their lives measured on six key factors: Gross Domestic Product, which is the nation’s wealth; Social Support, which is having someone to count on in times of troubles; Healthy Life Expectancy, or the mental and physical health of citizens; Freedom to Make Life Choices, which measure the degree to which you can choose what you will do with your life; Generosity, which reflects the actions you take that benefit others; and, Perception of Corruption, which measures whether or not people trust their government.

The report is covered extensively when it’s released, but most coverage mainly skims the rankings. I thought it would be interesting to compare the results of the U.S., Mexico and Finland, the top-ranked country, on the five non-financial measurements to see where the main gaps are.

First, on Social Support, Finland scored 0.969, the U.S. 0.919 and Mexico 0.804. On Healthy Life Expectancy, Finland is 71.150, the U.S. 65.850 and Mexico 65.800. Freedom to Make Life Choices is Finland 0.961, the U.S. 0.800 and Mexico 0.858. For Generosity, Finland is -0.019, the U.S. 0.137 and Mexico -0.094. Finally, for Perception of Corruption, Finland is 0.182, the U.S. 0.689 and Mexico 0.768.

Sorry for geeking out with the data, but I thought it might be interesting to see the differences between the number one-rated country and the U.S. and Mexico, but also where the U.S. and Mexico are similar and where they are different.

The important thing to think about is Mexico’s overall ranking against 137 other countries. Three other Latin American countries also did well in the study: Costa Rica is 23rd, Uruguay 28th and Chile 35th.

There are other happiness reports done annually that might be of interest to you, like the Gallup Report I reviewed several years ago for Expats In Mexico.

Mexico consistently does well, especially when the surveys focus on what makes Mexico a great place to live: the warmth of the people and friends and family relationships. That’s why I make Puerto Vallarta, Mexico my home… and I’m very happy.

Written by Robert Nelson, the founder of the popular online magazine Expats In Mexico – The Expat Guide to Living in Mexico and author of two books about living in Puerto Vallarta: Boomers in Paradise: Living in Puerto Vallarta and Expats in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta. Visit Robert’s new website to learn more about Life in Vallarta.

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