In the 7th Edition of the World Happiness Report, in 2019 both Guatemala and Costa Rica are the two Central American countries that are considered to be in the Top 30 of the happiest countries in the world! In addition to the United States, the other countries that ranked highly from the Americas are Canada, Chile, Panamá, Brasil, México, Argentina and Uruguay. This report presents the available global data on national happiness and reviews related evidence from the emerging science of happiness, showing that the quality of people’s lives can be coherently, reliably and validly assessed by a variety of subjective well-being measures; collectively referred to as “happiness.”

The first World Happiness Report was released in April 2012 in support of a United Nations High level meeting on “Well being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” and each report since then includes updated evaluations and a range of commissioned chapters on special topics digging deeper into the science of well-being, and on happiness in specific countries and regions. Often there is a central theme. In 2019, the focus is on happiness and community: how happiness has been changing over the past dozen years, and how information technology, governance and social norms influence communities. The world is a rapidly changing place. Among the fastest changing aspects are those relating to how people communicate and interact with each other, whether in their schools and workplaces, their neighborhoods, or in far-flung parts of the world.

In the 2018 report, migration was studied as one important source of global change, finding that each country’s life circumstances, including the social context and political institutions were such important sources of happiness that the international ranking of migrant happiness was almost identical to that of the native born. This evidence made a powerful case that the large international differences in life evaluations are driven by the differences in how people connect with each other and with their shared institutions and social norms. In 2019, after presenting the usual country rankings of life evaluations, and tracing the evolution since 2005 of life evaluations, positive affect, negative affect, and the six key explanatory factors, the main forces that influence happiness by changing the ways in which communities and their members interact with each other are considered more broadly with three sets of factors:

1. Links between government and happiness,
2. The power of pro-social behavior; and,
3. Changes in information technology.

The rankings of country happiness in 2019 are based on the pooled results from Gallup World Poll surveys from 2016-2018, and continue to show both change and stability. As shown by the report’s league tables for happiness and its supports, the top countries tend to have high values for most of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. As has historically been the case, European countries are at the top of the list with Finland ranked as the happiest country on earth closely followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Holland, Switzerland and Sweden among others. Of the 156 countries with global data that was analyzed both Guatemala and Costa Rica from the Central American region ranked in the Top 30 so as Guatemalans that lead the VOS lifestyle would say, ¡Vida Pura!