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Can't buy happiness: whoever said you can't buy happiness may have some empirical backing.


A LATIN TRADE ANALYSIS of information from the Happy Planet Index and GDP per capita data from the International Monetary Fund shows that there is no direct connection between happiness and wealth.

According to the Happy Planet Index from the UK-based New Economic Foundation, a Latin American country, Costa Rica beat 142 other nations worldwide when it comes to life satisfaction. In fact, Costa Ricans are happier than those in wealthier countries like Ireland and Norway.

And even though Costa Rica comes in eighth among Latin American countries when it comes to GDP per capita, it trounces its neighbors in life satisfaction.

Meanwhile, being the second-richest country in Latin America has not brought much joy to Chileans, who rank as the third-worst nation in life satisfaction in the region (only Haitians and Peruvians are less happy).

Panama takes second place in life satisfaction, even though it ranks in fifth place in GDP per capita.

And Mexicans are somewhat happier than their GDP-per-capita numbers should indicate. While Mexico ranks as the fourth-richest nation in Latin America in GDP-per-capita terms, it ranks as the third-happiest.

Interestingly enough, people in Panama and Mexico are also happier than people in much wealthier countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Argentina, which has Latin America's highest GDP per capita, ranks eighth when it comes to life satisfaction.

In contrast, Brazilians are happier than their wealth ranking. White Brazil is Latin America's seventh-richest nation in per capita terms, its people are the fourth-happiest, along with Dominicans. The latter group shows an even Larger gap between happiness and wealth. The Dominican Republic ranks in the bottom half of Latin America in GDP-per-capita terms.

Both Brazil and the Dominican Republic rank ahead of the United Kingdom in life satisfaction, white Colombia has happier people than Germany.

However, in the case of Haiti, wealth may be a factor (although the country also suffers from a range of other problems, including poor progress in reconstruction after the January 2010 earthquake). Haiti is both the least-happy nation in Latin America, and the poorest.

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Title Annotation:THE SCENE
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Country overview
Geographic Code:0LATI
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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