New worldwide country rankings released from the Gallup – Healthways Well-Being Index, show Puerto Rico in the top 3 countries worldwide–outranked only by Costa Rica and Panama–making it the happiest island in the world. The “2014 Country Well-Beings Report”, provides an in-depth view into the perceptions and daily experience of citizens across the globe.
Puerto Rico is No. 3 out of the top 10 highest well-being countries, including Switzerland, Belize, Chile, Denmark, Guatemala, Austria and Mexico. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, which came in at No. 23 on the list. The U.S. has fallen in ranking since last year’s report, where it came in at No. 12
We took a look at the top Caribbean countries on the list to find their rank. Puerto Rico far outranked its island neighbors, Dominican Republic (No. 34), Jamaica (No. 76), and Haiti (No. 137).
The lowest-ranked countries included Tunisia (No. 141), Togo (No. 142), Cameroon (No. 143), Bhutan (No. 144), and Afghanistan (No. 145).
The research included 146,000 surveys and 145 countries and areas. It measures well-being perceptions through results from questions focused on overall life happiness: purpose (liking what you do daily), social (having supportive relationships), financial (financial security), community (safety and community pride) and physical (good health). Respondents characterized each response on a scale of thriving, struggling or suffering.
The questions in the survey center on important societal benefits and stressors like healthcare, trust in government, stress and social fulfillment.
Puerto Rico’s high ranking is a surprise to some, given the island’s current financial struggles and high unemployment rates. The island is in a recession and burdened by an outstanding debt of $72 billion, with 7 percent of residents fleeing to the mainland over the past 10 years.
Despite it all, it seems Puerto Rico’s inhabitants have a positive life perception. Responders scored high on the survey for purpose, social, community and physical well-being. Their only low score was for financial well-being.
Latin Americans in particular have higher levels of well-being than any other regional group. Residents of many Latin American countries are among the most likely in the world to report daily positive experiences such as smiling and laughing, feeling enjoyment, and feeling treated with respect each day.
A number of recent studies have shown that people overestimate the influence of wealth on happiness, so perhaps Puerto Ricans have the right attitude, celebrating family, community, friendship and life purpose.
What do you think? Is Puerto Rico really the happiest island? Join in the discussion below.