Dubai: If you think happiness is proportional to wealth, economic growth or world-class infrastructure, think again. According to the latest data, residents in less progressive countries seem to be happier than their peers in highly-industrialised nations.
The latest Happy Planet Index, compiled by independent think tank New Economics Foundation (NEF), showed that small nations are beating Western economies on sustainable wellbeing, with Costa Rica emerging as the happiest place on earth.
The Latin nation outperforms advanced economies like the United States (US) in terms of life expectancy, wellbeing and environmental sustainability, despite trailing behind in the race to economic development.
“Costa Rica’s [gross domestic product] GDP per capita is less than half that of the USA. Despite this, Costa Ricans have higher wellbeing, and on average live longer,” NEF said in a statement.
The index, which is on its fourth edition, ranks 140 countries on how efficiently and fairly they deliver long, happy lives for their residents. The study takes into account the average life expectancy of the citizens in a given country, wellbeing and ecological footprint, among others.
None of the so-called Group of Eight (G8) economies, which include France, Italy, United States, Japan and United Kingdom, appeared in the top 10. The index is instead dominated by countries in Latin America and Asia Pacific, where citizens enjoy relatively high, and equally distributed, life expectancy and wellbeing despite much smaller ecological footprints than other, more advanced economies.
Costa Rica is followed by Mexico in the second place, while Colombia, Vanuatu and Vietnam round off the top five happiest countries in the world.
The rest of the top ten consist of Panama, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Thailand and Ecuador. Other Asian countries made it to the top 30, with the Philippines emerging in the 20th place and Sri Lanka occupying the 28th spot.
The complete list of top 30 happiest countries on earth: