Chile happiest country in South America, says UN report

SANTIAGO – Chileans are the happiest among all their bordering nations, a 2018 United Nations report on happiness has revealed.

The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s annual survey report ranked Chile on the 25th spot among 156 countries. The ranking was based on six indicators: income per capita, life expectancy, social support, freedom, generosity and corruption.

According to the sixth World Happiness Report, Chile is three points ahead of Brazil (28), four points ahead of Argentina (29), six of Uruguay (31), 12 of Colombia, 23 of Ecuador, 37 of Bolivia, and 40 points ahead of Peru on the ranking table of happiness.

The first Latin American country that appears in the ranking is Costa Rica in 13th place.

The report declared Finland the world’s happiest country whereas Burundi bagged the last position.

Norway, Denmark and Iceland clinched the second, third and fourth position, respectively.

Chile drops two spots in corruption index; 2nd most transparent in Latin America

Happiness of migrants

For the first time the UN also examined the happiness levels of immigrants in each country, and found Finland also scored highest.

The study found that the 10 happiest countries in the overall rankings also scored highest on immigrant happiness.

According to the report’s website, the World Happiness Report was compiled “by a group of independent experts acting in their personal capacities”.

“Any views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the views of any organisation, agency or programme of the United Nations,” reads the disclaimer.

The 2018 World Happiness Report also charts the steady decline of the U.S. as the world’s largest economy grapples with a crisis of obesity, substance abuse and depression.

The study reveals the US has slipped to 18th place, five places down on 2016.

Burundi in east Africa, scarred by bouts of ethnic cleansing, civil wars and coup attempts, is the unhappiest place in the world. Strikingly, there are five other nations – Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and the Central African Republic – which report happiness levels below that of even Syria.

Venezuela recorded the biggest fall in happiness, outstripping even Syria, although in absolute terms it remains a mid-ranking country. The report notes that Latin American countries generally scored more highly than their GDP per capita suggests, especially in contrast to fast-growing east Asian countries.

Latin America is renowned for corruption, high violence and crime rates, unequal distribution of income and widespread poverty, yet has consistently scored relatively highly in the happiness report. The authors attributed this to “the abundance of family warmth and other supportive social relationships frequently sidelined in favour of an emphasis on income measures in the development discourse”.

Meanwhile, the greatest human migration in history – the hundreds of millions of people who have moved from the Chinese countryside into cities – has not advanced happiness at all, the report found.

Top 10 happiest countries, 2018
(2017 ranking in brackets)

1. Finland (5)
2. Norway (1)
3. Denmark (2)
4. Iceland (3)
5. Switzerland (4)
6. Netherlands (6)
7. Canada (7)
8. New Zealand (8)
9. Sweden (10)
10. Australia (9)

The 10 unhappiest countries, 2018
(2017 ranking in brackets)

147. Malawi (136)
148. Haiti (145)
149. Liberia (148)
150. Syria (152)
151. Rwanda (151)
152. Yemen (146)
153. Tanzania (153)
154. South Sudan (147)
155. Central African Republic (155)
156. Burundi (154)

Latin American countries in the ranking

Costa Rica (13)
Mexico (24)
Chile (25)
Panama (27)
Brazil (28)
Argentina (29)
Guatemala (30)
Uruguay (31)
Colombia (37)
Trinidad and Tobago (38)
El Salvador (40)
Nicaragua (41)
Ecuador (48)
Bolivia (62)
Paraguay (64)
Peru (65)
Honduras (72)
Dominican Republic (83)
Venezuela (102)
Haiti (148)