246.2 The uniqueness in the patterns of Latin American happiness

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Pablo BEYTÍA , Sociology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Although seldom explicitly, the majority of global studies of happiness show that Latin America is an exceptional case. The region denotes higher levels of happiness than Western Europe and the United States; however, Latin America has lower per capita GDP, higher levels of poverty, worse education, weaker political institutions and a poorer health system. In this context, the question arises: what are the factors that explain the abundant happiness in Latin America, those that allow satisfaction with life despite the low objective indicators of quality of life?

This presentation explores the uniqueness in the patterns of Latin American happiness. The evidence that pertain to Latin America as a special region in terms of their levels of happiness is first classified, providing new data and explanatory maps. Then, the differences in the determinants or correlates of happiness that the region has in contrast with Western Europe and the United States are explored. These differences would explain the seemingly strange situation in Latin America, because factors like money, health and appreciation for the institutions in this region have a different impact, allowing happiness in a situation of apparent low quality of life.

To understand and explain the uniqueness of these patterns, social data and cultural literature are used. Here social relations appear as an essential explanatory factor: they are a key for understanding the unique effect that in Latin America have money, health and appreciation of the institutions.

Note: This presentation is based on two studies on the subject. First, the thesis "The impact of social context on individual determinants of happiness" (available in Spanish). Second, the article "The uniqueness in the patterns of Latin American happiness" in preparation for the book "Happiness Research in Latin America" to be published by Springer in 2012.