Belize – A Happy Country in the World

There’s some good news that will make you smile. In April of this year, Belize was ranked at number thirty-four of one hundred and fifty-six countries on the first ever United Nations World Happiness Report. That report was released exactly six months ago and we don’t know what drastic changes may have occurred in that time, but in another study released today Belize is ranked as the fourth happiest country in the world.

The Happy Planet Index includes one hundred and fifty-one countries and looks at experienced well-being, life expectancy and the ecological footprint of a country’s residents. Of the top ten countries, seven are from either Central America or the Caribbean. Costa Rica is named happiest country in the world, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Belize, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guatemala is number ten. Believe it or not, the US is ranked at one hundred and five while Denmark which was number one on the UN list is at one hundred and ten. It makes you wonder what factors make the rankings so different. Well, while the UN surveyed residents, asking them to rate their level of satisfaction, the happy planet index focuses on sustainable well being. Here’s an explanation from the creator of the Happy Planet Index, Nic Marks of the London-based New Economics Foundation.
Nic Marks, Creator, Happy Planet Index
“Everybody wants a good life and I presume we want people in the future to live good lives. We created the Happy Planet Index really to highlight the tension between creating good lives now and good lives in the future. Because we think people should be happy and the planet should be happy, Why don’t we create a measure of progress that shows that? And what we do is we say that the ultimate outcome of a nation is how successful is it at creating happy and healthy lives for its citizens. Economic activity tends to be taken as a sign of the strength and power of a nation and yet all it is, is just economic turn over. What the Happy Planet Index does is it takes two things really, it’s looking at the well being of citizens in countries and then it’s looking at the resources they use. It creates what we call an efficiency measure; it says how much well being do you get for your resource use, it’s like a miles per gallon, bang per buck indicator. Running horizontally along the graph, is ecological footprint, how much pressure we put on the planet; more is bad. Running vertically upwards is a measure called happy life years; it’s like a happiness adjusted life expectancy and the yellow dot there you see is the global average. The challenge really is to pull the global average up here, that’s we need to do. And to do that, we need to pull countries from the bottom and we need to pull countries from the right of the graph and then we’re starting to create a happy planet. You can download the report; you can look at your personal HPI score. It’s the first global index of sustainable well being.”

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