Latest world happiness study relegates Costa Rica to 12th place

So what happens when your country is no longer listed as the happiest in the world? At the very least, that misleading claim can no longer be used to lure tourists.

Costa Rica was once listed as the happiest nation. This year the country is listed in 12th place just three spots above the United States.

Unlike the 2012 report, this year the report seems to say that wealthy First World countries have the happiest citizens.

The World Happiness report put Switzerland first, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway. The ranking seems counter intuitive. The Swiss are well known as industrious but hardly jolly. Icelanders are known for heavy drinking. And the Danes face a 45 percent income tax levy.

But again the happiness index is heavy on ideology.

Some can question the methodology and reliability, too. When Costa Rica was ranked first in 2012, Vietnam followed closely. This year Vietnam is 75th. The report also says the country that became happier than any others from 2005 and 2007 to 2013 and 2014 was Nicaragua. Costa Rica’s neighbor is just a decimal point above second place Zimbabwe.

A news release explains the methodology this way:

The report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, national statistics, and says measurements of subjective well-being can be used effectively to assess national progress.

The first World Happiness Report, released in 2012 ahead of the U.N. high-level meeting on Happiness and Well-being, drew international attention as a landmark first survey of the state of global happiness. This latest report digs even unhappy0424145deeper into the data looking at country trends since the first report, regional indicators, factors in gender and age, and the importance of investing in social capital.

As previous reports have done, The World Happiness Report 2015 reveals trends in the data judging just how happy countries really are. On a scale running from 0 to 10, people in over 150 countries, surveyed by Gallup over  2012 to 15, reveal an average score of 5.1 (out of 10). Six key variables explain three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.

This year for the first time ever, the report breaks down the data by gender, age and region.

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