Though Chile has one of South America’s strongest economies, a recent study of happiness rates it second-to-last in the region, leading experts to assert that national happiness is not determined by a nation’s wealth or economic development.
The survey as conducted in Chile, Perú, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. Happiness in Chile was on par with happiness in the sample’s poorest country: Bolivia.
“Money does not determine happiness,” Pablo González Vicente, president of Cimagroup, the marketing analysis firm that conducted the study, said to El Mercurio.
“What is more important is the level of inequality in countries: in general, the countries with the most equal distribution of wealth are happier than those with a lot of inequality.”
While there was little correlation between wealth and happiness, the study did determine other factors that appeared to influence national satisfaction.
People who live in warmer climates, for example, tend to be happier than those in colder ones, the study found. Within Chile, the cities in the warmer north were on average happier than those in the south, where the weather is much colder.
Overall, the analysis found that people were most satisfied with their family life and least satisfied with their financial situation.
Financial satisfaction, however, seemed to be determined not by the amount of money a person had, but instead by their expectations of what that money should mean.
For example, Venezuela, which the study determined was the happiest country overall, had a 56% economic satisfaction rate. Chileans, on the other hand, were wealthier but had a lower average satisfaction rate of about 33%.
Along with climate, family and finances, researchers found that happiness was influenced by a person satisfaction with his or her love life, health, job and physical appearance.
The importance of these factors varied between countries. For Chileans, personal finances were the most important; for Bolivians job satisfaction ranked the highest; and for Colombians and Peruvians love and relationships had the biggest impact.
“Even though we share the same language and may have similar histories, we are not the same,” González said of the results. There is no one indicator of happiness, he said. Instead, it seems, “every country has its own way of looking at life.”
By Adeline Bash – The Santiago Times