PANAMA CITY – For the second year in a row, the country of Panama proves that wealth does not necessarily lead to well-being. Panama maintains its title as the nation with the highest well-being – surpassing the United States and wealthy Northern European countries – according to an analysis by the largest, independent well-being improvement company and the leading management consulting firm in the world.
The Gallup-Healthways State of Global Well-Being: 2014 Country Well-Being Rankings Report utilized the results of over 146,000 face-to-face interviews in 145 countries to create an index that “captures important aspects of how people feel about and experience their daily lives.” The study measures interviewees’ perceptions of individual well-being in relation to five elements of life: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Fifty-three percent of Panamanians are thriving in three or more areas.
“People in Panama will report a lot of daily happiness, a lot of daily smiling and laughter, and a lot of daily enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry,” said Dan Witters, a contributor to the index.
The most advanced and comprehensive measure of well-being to date, the Gallup-Healthways study found that seven of the ten countries with the highest well-being were part of the Americas, which is consistent with results in past years. Among the five nations with the lowest levels of well-being, Afghanistan had no interviewees thriving in three or more well-being elements, and no one was thriving in purpose, social or financial well-being.
“For the second year, only one in six adults worldwide are considered thriving in at least three of the five elements of well-being, which underscores that many countries are not maximizing their human potential,” said Witters.
Well-being often provides a more complete way to judge the potential for progress of a population than mere monetary indicators. Research from Healthways and Gallup indicated that higher well-being often correlates with higher employment engagement, productivity, stability, resilience in the face of challenges and lower healthcare costs. Trust in elections and local institutions, low daily stress, food and shelter security and volunteerism are also generally associated with high levels of well-being.
Arnaud Bernaert, senior director, head of global health and healthcare industries at the World Economic Forum, stated that global leaders seek to understand the productivity and health of their populations in a more comprehensive way in order to better support the economy and workforce.
“We need standardized global measurements and comparative data to help nations identify their biggest opportunities for improving the lives of the people within their borders. These insights will guide future investments in health and well-being.”
– Paulina Menichiello