A soothing tropical climate and the country’s love affair with renewable energy could also be fueling happiness in Costa Rica, the report states.
Costa Rica is placed 12th on the Happiness Index, two spots higher than the United States, which is ranked 14th.
The report was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an international panel of social scientists convened by the United Nations. Its authors say they took into account several factors, including GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, generosity, and the perception of corruption.
Chile also secured a place in the top 20, with Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico ranking at 22nd, 24th, and 25th, respectively.
The United States slipped one spot from last year, with authors citing both a reduced sense of personal freedom and an increase in perceived corruption from government and business as the main reasons for the drop in happiness.
China’s GDP has multiplied over five-fold in the past quarter century, but the Chinese people are not happy, says the report. This is due to rising unemployment rates and fraying social safety nets, each causing fresh troubles in the communist country.
The report notes that some economic stability is necessary to feel happy; most of the countries at the bottom of the list are in desperate poverty.
Interestingly, people in major Latin American countries are happier than Singaporeans, largely because the high rate of happiness cannot be explained by economics alone.