Dominicans are the 2nd Most Efficient

July 6, 2009 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

According to the Happy Planet Index the Domincans are the second happiest in the world. According to the webpage:

The Happy Planet Index reveals the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered

The index combines environmental impact with human well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which, country by country, people live long and happy lives.

Though the name is misleading, the study actually measures environmental friendliness of countries

Some of the interesting results from the project:

  • Of the top ten rated, all but one is Latin American
  • The bottom ten are all sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Many of the countries that do well are composed of small islands (including the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and the Philippines).
  • No country achieves the three goals of high life satisfaction, high life expectancy and one-planet living.

THis is an excerpt of what the report says about the Dominican Republic:

The third-most populous country in the Caribbean and Central America, behind Guatemala and Cuba, the Dominican Republic was where Christopher Columbus set up the first permanent European settlement in the New World. It is a diverse country, with 73 per cent of the population being of mixed ethnicity.

Whilst the Dominican Republic’s condition is similar to many other countries in the region – a medium score in the Human Development Index, dependence on the USA for trade, relatively high life expectancy given its income levels and, high levels of inequality – unlike many of its neighbours it manages to achieve a life expectancy of over 70 years with a very small footprint.

It is tempting to consider whether its small footprint has anything to do with the country having led the way in environmental conservation in Latin America since the 1970s; 32 per cent of the Republic is covered by national parks and reserves – the highest proportion in the Americas. This coverage stems from the presidencies of Joaqín Balaguer, who was a key figure in the nation’s politics for the entire second half of the twentieth century. His motivations were unclear, and his methods were certainly not ones to advocate, but his iron fist was responsible for halting logging in the country, preventing urban build-up in natural parks and raising the profile of the environment in national politics.

As politics in the Dominican Republic have become more democratic, local NGOs have begun to flourish. Whereas most environmental NGOs in many developing countries tend to be imports from the rich world, here local groups dominate.


As a Dominican, I feel the name of this study is misleading and shouldn’t claim to be about happiness, but about environmental well- being. Sadly, my country has some highly polluted areas and a population that needs more happiness in the area of healthcare, housing and education.  Maybe the issue isn’t that Latin Americans have less materialist aspirations, but that they have less income and less access to them.

click here for access to the pdf.


Entry filed under: interesting things. Tags: , , .

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