Friday, July 14, 2006

El Salvador near top on "Happy Planet Index"

El Salvador ranks in the top 10 countries in the world on the newly released Happy Planet Index of the New Economics Foundation. The Foundation describes its index as:

"An index of human well-being and environmental impact", [which] moves beyond crude ratings of nations according to national income, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to produce a more accurate picture of the progress of nations based on the amount of the Earth's resources they use, and the length and happiness of people's lives.

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) strips the view of the economy back to its absolute basics: what we put in (resources), and what comes out (human lives of different length and happiness). The resulting Index of the 178 nations for which data is available, reveals that the world as a whole has a long way to go. In terms of delivering long and meaningful lives within the Earth's environmental limits - all nations could do better. No country achieves an overall 'high' score on the Index, and no country does well on all three indicators.

Get the full report here.


You might also want to read this editorial critiquing the Happy Planet Index.


Indira said...

people emmigrate to more rich countries, like usa, because they like the money and the things they can buy more easily than in their original countries.
once they get there, they don't like the lifestyle, beging to be obese and depressed, and always homesick dreaming of coming back home to their paradise.
2 million salvadoreans in the usa knew by experience what "happy planet index" have put in numbers.
colombia and el salvador have high rates of crime, but that doesn't mean that there is a serial killer in every corner waiting for you. the violence here is concentrated in extreme poverty neighborhoods, and just in those where gangs have proliferated. violence and crime doesn't affect the dayly life of majority of population.
first surprise of western countries visitors to el salvador (and i dare to say even to colombia) is how different is here to the idea they have outside, mainly spreaded by media generalizations.
analizing happy planet index most happy nations are latinamerican.
is not strange to me that more unhappy are those nations depending of foreign oil to sustain their high consume lifestyles, and spreading war to keep the oil flowing to them. the other group of sad nations is formed of arab and asiatic nations atacked by usa and europe to have their oil resources.
we latin americans can consider lucky of not being petroleum producers, so powerful sad nations can let us live happy.

Indira said...

please send my previous comment to the patriot news, the newspaper in your country editorializing about happy planet index. i tried to do it but i don't know where to address. i invite the editorialist to visit el salvador, offer him a stay, house and food included, and i am sure he will change his mind about el salvador. he is writing as a complete ignorant. he should have visit el salvador or colombia before writing.

Tim said...


To send a letter to the editor of the Patriot-News, use this e-mail


Anonymous said...

Yes..... I'm soooooo happy *ingests another soma pill, amidst getting my head brainwashed by Casaca propaganda on Cannel 4*

Can you see how happy I am?

Anonymous said...

As for the "people in developed countries are unhappy while people in poor country are... happy" issue, I want to add something. Humans are complex. What in case one, people can say what is lack of happiness, I can say that it is being unconformist. You don't settle for something, you want more, you want to change what you have, etc. In a developing country you consider yourself BLESSED to even possess something. So in a country where you HAVE, and have the potential of acquiring even more, you may be unhappy when you see your attempts frustrated, but in reality it's very different in a developing country where crime rates are high, work is a luxury, education isn't guranteed and the education itself is lame, you see your pursuit of your personal ambitions staunched, so when you count with the bare essentials as a roof (even if it's in a high-risk area as lots of houses in El Salvador are), can at the very least some frijoles and a loaf of bread in the table for you and your family, and can at the very least wake up tomorrow and go work in a factory or a sweatshop... You have this feeling of being "blessed". But deep inside in this country, even when people conform, I believe that it is too audacious to actually say that we are happy. Of course, people in the Northern regions are more decadent and depressive... and people closer to the equator seem more like simple-minded creatures all jumpy and bubbly... But saying that we are happy after looking at the history of countries like El Salvador, war torn... I believe it to be ignorance and an outrage to say that El Salvador is a very happy place. I believe that the bohemians or hippies under the HPI, should go back in time and live in El Salvador during the eras of the civil war and see how frustrating it actually is to live in a retrograde country like this. Because even if in a developing country the apathy of a materialistic-driven society that may be common in more developed regions isn't dominant, they are far other things that rattle against our "happyness". In other words, USA and France may be closer to he cyberpunk societies of popculture, but places like El Salvador are FAR away from being the proverbial ideal pastoral life... Latin America as a whole is a very melancholic place... As books like "Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina", "Cien Años de Soledad", "Pedro Parramo", "El Coronel no tiene quien le escriba" can show.

gapgirl said...

Anonymous: Yeah,now that you said it , I notice too the melancholy in Latin American movies and music.I thought it was just all that latin romanticism but you are sooo correct there about where all that sadness comes from.I cant help but feel sooooo sad now :-(

wally said...

One of the questions I ask frequently of people who visit the States from here or have lived there, is do you think people are happier here or there, and invariably the answer is that people are happier in El Salvador. In the U.S. the economy is driven by the premise you should have what you want the way you want it when you want it, and if that´s not happening, you should be upset, which lays the groundwork for an unhappy life. Here people learn to make do with what they have, and get on with life. Also this culture is people oriented, not materially oriented, at least to a greater degree than in than in the States. And relationships bring happiness more than having things. So I agree with the index, except for Cuba. Why are the borders patrolled to keep all those happy people from escaping?

Indira said...

there are poor countries where people is unhappy too, the last 10 in the 178 countries list are extreme poverty african nations destroyed by european colonialism and artificial divisions, and arab nations under violence.
WALLY: part of happiness is the attitude wherewith we confront problems...cubans are happy though they hate their system, but they will not commit suicide in mass, or will stop laughing and dancing, they confront misery with joy, not with more misery, as most westeners would do...vanatuans, the nation in 1st place, are waiting their islands dissapear by ocean tsunamies, is inavoidable, will happen in the future, they can not solve it, then why to fall in panic or torture with anguish as westeners would expect they would do???
the market boom of latin american literature made famous writers and novels who were inspired by american writers like capote, hemingway, dos passos, and especially faulkner. macondo, the supposedly allegory of latin america, is in fact yoknapathawpha invented by the southern/usa writer faulkner. literature is art, not life. boom writers were smart to use selling techniques, and tortured themes learned in american and european literature. they were useful for propaganda needs in a specific moment in history, same history that now is forgotten them as new times are developing...

Indira said...

read how salvadorean poor young people, in a maras neighborhood, fights against horror in "de las cosas que pasan" in tribulaciones y asteriscos blog.

Tim said...

This was not the first time a survey ranked El Salvador as a "happy country." take a look at the results from University of Michigan World Values Survey.

Miguel Lerdo said...

This doesn’t seem particularly baffling. Some people are genetically happier than others. Countries with large levels of emigration score well in the happiness index because all the unhappy people move away. Think about it – how many Salvadorian expatriates, who spend their lives complaining about life in the U.S., were equally unhappy before they left El Salvador. These are the people who never have enough. The people who stay behind (those who are interviewed for El Salvador’s happiness survey) are those who are happy with what they have. The same could be said for Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Frustrated, ambitious Americans, on the other hand have no where to go so they stay in the U.S. and mope.

Of course, we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn ambitious unhappy people. Who makes it possible for the rest of us live our happy-go-lucky easy life? People slaving away in offices and laboratories and fast-food restaurants driving the economy and sending remesas.

gapgirl said...

I guess happiness is always relative.Remember what they say about beauty being in the eye of the beholder? Happiness too may depend on an individual's personal perspective.One can be poor but be happy. And so on and so forth.To the respondents of the survey, I really admire the ability of the people of El Salvador to be happy in the midst of what seems to be an unhappy situation sometimes.If the people are happy , then the place is happy. So be it!

Indira said...

MIGUEL LERDO: you are totally wrong, salvadoreans emmigrants to the usa were not poor people by salvadorean standards, they were middle class campesinos propietarios, land owners. how do you think they get the money (thousands of dollars)to pay the trip.
the ones that can not get that big amount of money are still here, the poorest of the poor, and they are smiling, caring, grateful, not unhappy at all, people.

Miguel Lerdo said...


You need to come up with an explanation for why Salvadorians are leaving “paradise”. You argue that Salvadorians go to the U.S. because they like the things they can buy with money, but they were really happier in El Salvador. Last I checked, consumption played some role in happiness (yes, I know - feeding, clothing, and educating our children are the trivial concerns of crass materialists, but we Salvadorians are a simple people).

If Salvadorians want to go back to paradise, why don’t they? (Of course many do head back to “paradise”, I have a friend from La Union who gave up TPS only to head back to the US again, got deported, then tried again a month later and succeeded – cost $12,000 plus a month in prison waiting to be deported)

I haven’t done a scientific survey, but my undocumented friends in the U.S. had annual incomes in the hundreds of dollars in El Salvador – they are plenty poor. Not one of them owned any land. They borrow money for their trip from distant relatives, cousins or in-laws, who came to the U.S. when it was easier.

Ok, so some poor people can’t afford to travel to the U.S. That doesn’t make them any happier. I don’t doubt that some unhappy people stay in El Salvador. The fact remains that people who move to the U.S. were disproportionately unhappy in El Salvador. If you take a third of the population that is disproportionately unhappy and send them abroad, your happiness index will go up. It’s basic arithmetic.

Finally, your definition of extreme poverty neighborhoods must include most of El Salvador if you think it only affects the extreme poor. I have lived in Ciudad Delgado, San Marcos and Cinco de Noviembre (near Esso). Crime affected me in each of these neighborhoods.

Your comment about obesity in the U.S. also betrays your limited recent experience with poor Salvadorians. If you haven’t noticed, obesity is a growing problem in El Salvador. Head to any poor neighborhood or market in El Salvador and you will see plenty of fat people. It must be nice to live in a rich-girl’s dreamworld where El Salvador is paradise. The rest of us must work to solve the problems staring us in the face.

Maya Gonzalez said...

I'm married to a salvadorian for 12 years & have a relationship with many salvadorians, I know 1st hand that Salvadorians are superficial, highly pharmaceutical drugged fake "happy" people they are actually very closed minded, angry, supper paranoid, fearful people!! they beat, bully, control & brain wash their children into medical, religion & government systems, they treat women like shit! slaves! like pure crap!! One of the 5 worst country's for women in the world!! Women & children are dying from illness because of it!! They have no respect for individual freedom & life!! They are the what's wrong with this planet!! there is a pharmacy on every corner there for a reason!! & they refuse to make the effort to change for a better planet! If you support life, love & freedom for all do not spend your money in that country!!