For the first time in a decade, the top 10 happiest countries in the world are all in Latin America, according to the 2014 Gallup Positive Experience Index.
Paraguay placed first out of 143 countries, with its people reporting the most positive emotions on a daily basis, according to the survey. Gallup researchers released the results for the United Nations’ third annual International Day of Happiness today (March 20).
To gauge happiness levels around the world, researchers interviewed about 1,000 people in each country, either in person or over the phone. All of the participants were age 15 or older, and answered questions about how happy they felt the day before. [See how each of the 143 countries placed on the 2014 list]
More than 70 percent of the respondents worldwide said they experienced enjoyment; smiled or laughed; felt well rested; and thought they were treated with respect, the poll found. What’s more, half of the participants said they had learned or did something interesting the day before the interview, according to the poll.
Gallup researchers compiled a “positive experience index score” for each country based on the responses to these five questions. Overall, the world has an average index score of 71 out of 100, but all of the Latin American countries that ranked in the top 10 scored higher than that.
Here are the 10 happiest countries, listed with their positive experience index scores:
Costa Rica, 81
El Salvador, 81
The United States received a score of 79, making it the 15th happiest country in the world, tied with 11 other countries, including Argentina and Canada.
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