The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, a new report indicates.
Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report.
“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.
The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.
Although it has recorded more coronavirus cases and Covid-19 deaths than any country in the world, the United States improved its happiness ranking to 14th in 2020 compared to an average of 16th between 2017 and 2019.
Finland ranked first with a score of 7.89, which indicates that Finns were on average 32% happier than Mexicans last year. Mexico’s score was just above that of Argentina, which ranked 47th, and just below that of Mongolia, which ranked 45th.
Iceland ranked second followed by Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands, while Zimbabwe was 95th and last ahead of Tanzania, Jordan, India and Cambodia.
According to the official 2021 World Happiness Report ranking, which is based on countries’ average score between 2018 and 2020, Mexico is the 36th happiest nation in the world. Finland also ranked first on that index while Afghanistan ranked last in 149th place.
Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.
But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.
Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.
Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.
One idea that the president could reconsider is his proposal to launch a homegrown “alternative index” that would measure people’s happiness and well-being in addition to economic growth.
Last May, not long after he declared that the pandemic had been controlled, López Obrador said he was working on a new index that would take people’s happiness into account.
“The technocrats won’t like it, … but if they don’t like it, it’s probably good for us. There are countries where the level of happiness is measured and that’s part of well-being. I’m making the formula, we’re going to apply it in Mexico,” he said May 21.
The president said last August that work on the index was progressing but there were no further updates as the pandemic death toll continued to rise, ultimately reaching a new monthly peak for fatalities in January.
With the death toll still rising by triple-digit figures on a daily basis (total Covid-19 deaths increased to 198,036 on Sunday) and with Mexicans evidently less happy now than they were before the pandemic, it will be unsurprising if López Obrador’s happiness index idea remains on the back burner in the months, or even years, ahead.
Mexico News Daily