Panama Tops Ranking of Countries for Well-Being; US is No. 12

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A new Gallup-Healthways poll ranks 135 countries based on their citizens’ well-being.

Overall, Panamanians feel pretty good about their lives. The Central American country ranked first among 135 countries in the inaugural Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index.

Afghanistan and Syria are the two bottom-ranking countries.

The recent poll assesses well-being based on these five elements:

  • Sense of purpose.
  • Social well-being.
  • Financial well-being.
  • Community well-being.
  • Physical well-being.

It found that just 1 in 6 adults across the globe are thriving in at least three of the five elements.

Residents of the sub-Saharan region of Africa are the least likely (9 percent) to be thriving in three or more elements, while people who live in the Americas are most likely to thrive (33 percent), Gallup said.

People with higher well-being are healthier, more productive, and more resilient in the face of challenges such as unemployment. People with higher well-being bounce back faster, are better able to take care of their own basic needs, and feel better able to contribute to and support the success of their organizations, communities, or countries.

According to The Huffington Post, well-being, once a seldom talked about topic, is now at the forefront of discussions. In 2015, the United Nations plans to discuss whether well-being should become a global development goal. Peter Choueiri, president of Healthways International, told HuffPo:

The global well-being index comes at the perfect time. Well-being has become more and more a topic of discussion, and it’s an increasing priority for the public and private sector worldwide.

So how did the U.S. do? It was listed as 12th overall. America was ranked 25th for community and physical well-being, 15th for social well-being, 21st for financial well-being and 18th for sense of purpose.

The top 10 countries, based on the percentage of residents found to be thriving in at least three of the five well-being elements, are:

  • Panama, 61 percent.
  • Costa Rica, 44 percent.
  • Denmark, 40 percent.
  • Austria, 39 percent.
  • Brazil, 39 percent.
  • Uruguay, 37 percent.
  • El Salvador, 37 percent.
  • Sweden, 36 percent.
  • Guatemala, 34 percent.
  • Canada, 34 percent.

The bottom five countries are:

  • Syria, 1 percent.
  • Afghanistan, 1 percent.
  • Haiti, 3 percent.
  • Congo Kinshasa, 5 percent.
  • Chad, 5 percent.

Do you agree with America’s 12th place ranking? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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