Image from Thinkstock. 
Image from Thinkstock. 

They've Got High Hopes: Latin America Leads In Global Happiness Rankings


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The Beatles famously sang out that they didn’t care too much for money, ‘cos money couldn’t buy them love.

But Gallup International, a leading association in economic research and market surveying, has been butting heads with Paul, Ringo, John, and George since 1977.

After four decades of polling thousands across Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and The United States, the association has been observing correlational relationships between a country’s prosperity and degrees of happiness and positivity as self-reported by its citizens.

This year’s poll asked questions such as:

As far as you are concerned, do you think that 2018 will be better, worse, or the same as 2017?, Compared to this year, in your opinion, will next year be a year of economic prosperity, economic difficulty, or remain the same for your country?, and In general, do you personally feel very happy, happy, neither happy nor unhappy, unhappy or very unhappy about your life?

Gallup International found that coming into 2018, the most hopeful (optimistic) countries are Indonesia, Nigeria, Fiji, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Albania, Kosovo, The Philippines, and Sweden.

The least hopeful (pessimistic) countries are Italy, Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Turkey, Republic of Korea, and a three-way tie between Ukraine, Latvia, and South Africa.

In their report, Gallup International noted that in 2016, 52% of people examined felt that 2017 would be a better year, whereas, in 2017, 40% of people feel that 2018 will be better than the year before.

The individuals who are most optimistic about their country’s prosperity come from Nigeria, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, The Philippines, Albania, Bangladesh, Fiji, Kosovo, and Pakistan.

In contrast, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Ukraine, The UK, South Africa, Mexico, Romania, and Bosnia & Herzegovina are the most pessimistic about economic growth.

The top ten happiest countries are Fiji, Colombia, The Philippines, Mexico, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, and a tie between Argentina and The Netherlands.

The unhappiest, Gallup International pointed out, tend to come from countries that were war-torn during 2017. These are Iran, Iraq, Ukraine, Greece, Moldova, Brazil, Hong Kong, South Africa, Turkey, and Ghana.

There is something unusual in these three groupings.

Did you notice it?

Interestingly, according to this questionnaire, Mexicans are some of the happiest people, even though they rated themselves as having grim prospects for their country’s financial stability and the year ahead as a whole.

The confidence level for 41st Annual Global End of Year Survey is reported at 95%, with a margin of error between 3-5%.

Why Mexico went in this rather surprising direction is unclear, but factors, such as cultural psychology, cultural norms in emotional articulation, and the phrasing of the survey questions, could have caused this.

The methodology used to conduct the survey in Mexico was over the phone and face to face, which could have also contributed to interviewees feeling the need to rate themselves as happy. We’re only human, after all.

Or, maybe, Mexico is just made up of people with the resilience and the fortitude to overlook outward situations, not allowing circumstance to deter their inward experience of happiness.

That’s a nicer hypothesis to cling onto.

Happy 2018!

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