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Survey shows Chileans among least happy in Latinamerica

Monday, December 18th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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The latest in a string of international happiness surveys shows that 66% of Chileans describe themselves as “happy” or “very happy” — yet they are less happy than people in almost every other Latin American country.

The survey, carried out by CimaGroup and polling over 6.000 people in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile, aimed to measure the level of happiness of those surveyed, and the factors contributing to their happiness. According to the survey, Venezuela is the country with the happiest population, with more than 80% of respondents describing themselves as happy. Peru had the lowest levels of happiness, with less than 60% saying they were happy with their lives. Interestingly, the survey revealed that national happiness does not seem to be linked to a country's level of wealth or economic growth. Chile, for example, has the highest per capita income of all the countries surveyed â€" around 12.000 US dollarsâ€" but has almost the same level of happiness as the poorest country, Bolivia. Pablo González, president of CimaGroup, said that preoccupation with increasing economic growth is drawing attention away from the real causes of happiness. "Money is definitely not linked to happiness," said González. "And â€" more surprisingly â€" nor is economic growth. In general, people in countries with a better distribution of wealth are happier than those where there is a greater level of inequality." The survey also looked at the different factors contributing to happiness and unhappiness in different countries. In Chile, unhappiness was attributed largely to a lack of money. But in Bolivia unhappiness was most related to work, and in Colombia and Peru, to love. Family life was consistently chosen in all countries as the most important factor contributing to happiness. According to Darío Rodríguez, professor at Chile's Catholic University's Institute of Psychology, family life is consistently important because it doesn't fluctuate like other factors. "Family is a source of happiness because it provides stability," he said. Psychologist Haydeé Cuadra expressed doubts as to the accuracy of the CimaGroup survey, and said she finds it difficult to believe that 66% of Chileans are really happy. "We live in a country where 'keeping up appearances' is important," said the psychologist. "The reality is that we have a high rate of depression, which would indicate a lack of happiness. And 20% of schoolchildren aged between 13 and 15 have thought about committing suicide." The Santiago Times

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