The Happy Planet Index 2.0 reveals a surprising picture of the relative wealth and progress of nations.
The second global ranking of well-being and environmental impact shows that: Costa Rica comes top of the Happy Planet Index 2.0. Costa Ricans report the highest life satisfaction in the world, have the second-highest average life expectancy of the Americas (second only to Canada).The country also has an ecological footprint that means it only narrowly fails to achieve the goal of ‘one-planet living’: consuming its fair share of the Earth’s natural resources.
Latin America dominates the top of the index. Nine of the ten top-scoring nations on the Index are in Latin America. The highest-ranking G20 country in terms of HPI is Brazil, in 9th place out of 143 nations.
Analysis of HPI data over time reveals that:
OECD nations’ HPI scores plummeted between 1960 and the late 1970s. Although there have been some gains since then, HPI scores were still higher in 1961 than in 2005. Life satisfaction and life expectancy combined have increased 15 per cent over the 45-year period, but it has come at an earth-shattering cost – an increase in ecological footprint per head of 72 per cent.
Of a group of 36 major nations it was possible to track over time in detail, around two-thirds increased their HPI scores marginally between 1990 and 2005, but the three largest countries in the world China, India and the USA (all aggressively pursuing growth-based development models) have all seen their HPI scores drop in that time.