x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Latin Americans win the happiness poll by smiles

Countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean topped the list of "most positive" nations released yesterday.

DUBAI // Latin Americans are among the world's cheeriest people, a new Gallup survey has found.

Countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean topped the list of "most positive" nations released yesterday.

The rankings were based on a Gallup survey that asked people in 148 countries five questions about factors that might affect their level of happiness, including whether they felt respected or had smiled and laughed in the past 24 hours.

Gallup ranked countries based on the average percentage of people who said yes to questions.

The top three positive nations were Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador. Overall, eight of the top 10 were in Latin America.

"These data may surprise analysts and leaders who solely focus on traditional economic indicators," said Jon Clifton, a partner at Gallup.

Panama, where 85 per cent responded favorably to the questions asked, ranks particularly low in terms of economic indicators, Mr Clifton added.

On the flip side, Singapore - which ranked lowest on the positivity list - has one of the highest GDP per capita rankings in the world.

"Higher income does not necessarily mean higher well-being," Mr Clifton wrote.

He added: "Leaders who are looking for ways to further improve the human condition in their countries ... need to do more to incorporate well-being into their leadership strategies.

Not all countries in the region reported overwhelming positive emotions. Haiti, the impoverished Caribbean country devastated by an earthquake in 2010, ranked near the bottom of the list.

vnereim@thenational.ae

* This article has been updated to reflect a correction in worldwide GDP per capita rankings.