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    Happiness / Somos+

    Somos+, Roberto Camba, 21 March 2017 — The United Nations has just
    launched the 2017 World Happiness Report, coinciding with the World
    Happiness Day on March 20th. From its first publication in 2012, the
    world has come to understand more and more that happiness has to be used
    as the correct measure with regards to social progress and the objective
    of public policies.

    The report is based on statistics collected from the happiness index or
    subjective well-being, Gross Domestic Product, social support, life
    expectancy from birth, freedom to make decisions, generosity, perception
    of corruption (within the government or in businesses), positive or
    negative feelings, confidence in the national government and in society,
    the level of democracy and the level of income per household.

    Much of the data is taken from the average of the results of Gallup’s
    global survey. For example, the “life’s staircase” question: “imagine a
    staircase, with steps numbered from 0 (at the base) to 10 (at the top).
    The top of the stairs represents the best life possible for you and the
    base the worst life possible. Which step do you feel like you are
    currently at right now?”

    “Social support” means having someone that you can rely on during times
    of difficulty. Generosity equates to having donated money to a
    charitable organisation over the past month. Whereas, positive or
    negative feeling relates to questions about whether for the most part of
    the previous day the individual experienced happiness, laughter or
    pleasure; or rather did they experience negative feelings such as worry,
    sadness or anger. The report references its sources and explains the
    other indexes which negatively influence the perception of happiness
    such as: unemployment or social inequality.

    The 2017 Happiness Report places Norway at the top of its list, followed
    by: Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New
    Zealand, Australia, and Sweden as the top ten.

    The US was listed at number 14 and Spain at 34. The best placed Latin
    American nations were Chile (20), Brazil (22), Argentina (24), Mexico
    (25), Uruguay (28), Guatemala (29) and Panama (30). The list included
    155 countries. Those that have improved the most with regards to their
    position between 2005-2007 are Nicaragua, Lithuania and Sierra Leone,
    whilst Venezuela is the country that has slipped down the rankings the most.

    And Cuba? It does not appear on the list. The Network of Solutions for
    Sustainable Development that prepared the report only possesses data on
    Cuba from 2006. During that time, the average response to the “staircase
    of life” was 5.4 (which placed it at 69th out of 156 nations), just
    behind Kosovo. Possibly today many Cubans would answer “where is the
    staircase to even begin to climb it?”

    According to the 2006 data, Cuba appeared to be high in its ranking of
    social support and life expectancy from birth, but it was the third
    worst in freedom to make decisions. It was ranked as low for level of
    democracy, despite the fact that its per capita GDP surpassed China,
    Mexico, Brazil and South Africa to name some of the prosperous economies
    in the world*. In the net index of feelings (the average of positive
    feelings subtracted by the average of negative feelings) Cuba occupied
    the 112th place, making it the lowest ranked country in Latin America,
    with only Haiti having worse figures.

    This index is the most direct measurement of fulfillment or of personal
    frustration that influences values and behaviour.

    Of course beyond scientific rigour, no statistic or survey is 100%
    reliable. Subjective happiness or individual perception of happiness is
    very variable. Replying to these questions implies making a mental
    comparison. We compare ourselves to our neighbour, to those abroad, to
    our past or to our previous situation.

    who receive manipulated information will not be able to effectively
    compare themselves. Furthermore, people think as they live: having
    access to running water could be the ultimate happiness for someone
    living in Sub-Saharan Africa, but a European or North American considers
    that they must have that and would take offense if they did not have it.

    Cubans do not need a global report to know that there is a low happiness
    index among the people. The problems seem insoluble, the shortages are
    growing, personal ambitions have had to be postponed for decades,
    emigration becomes the only hope. The government quashes individual
    initiatives and working towards the happiness of its people — or
    allowing others to do it — does not seem to be in its projections.
    At Somos Más (We Are More) we believe that a responsible government must
    have this as its main objective and we will continue to fight to achieve it.

    Translator’s note: If the GDP used for this analysis was that provided
    by the Cuban government, it would likely have been inaccurate.

    Source: Happiness / Somos+ – Translating Cuba –