World’s happiest countries

It’s not about the money!

The Happy Planet Index for 2016 again puts countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region at the top of the list, ahead of more ‘developed’ Western states.

Unlike some other rankings, the HPI includes such factors as ecological footprint, life expectancy, and the level of inequality within a country. They aim to assess sustainable wellbeing, not just the short term situation.

Costa Rican dancers and musicians

Costa Rican dancers and musicians

Costa Rica tops the Index, for the third year running: this tiny country has higher wellbeing and longer life expectancy than the UK or US, with a far fewer ecological footprint. 99% of electricity comes from renewable sources, and the country aims to be carbon neutral by 2021.

The UK ranks 34 on this Index. The highest scoring European countries include Norway (12) and the Netherlands (18), both the countries with strong environmental policies, and governments still committed to strong public services and relative equality of incomes. The latter has been shown to increase wellbeing at income levels. See the book, The Spirit Level.

For more on the HPI, see www.happyplanetindex.org