Costa Rica’s Gross National Happiness

More good news from Latin America.

[H]ow can poor countries become more liveable? Most developing nations know they will never be Norway. But they could become Costa Rica. ….

The average Costa Rican has about one-eighth of the income of the average American (according to the World Bank) yet lives a year longer, to age 80. Costa Rica also scores high on freedom of life choices, health, tolerance and lack of corruption. Its citizens report impressive life satisfaction. ….

Every nation needs a certain level of income to afford a good life. However, income alone isn’t enough. Costa Rica is about as rich as Libya or Iraq but is much better at prioritising national quality of life. It treats economic growth as secondary. That’s why it doesn’t sell football fields to developers, and why the tourists in its gorgeous Manuel Antonio national park can hardly buy a thing inside it. The park is for squirrel monkeys, not T-shirt vendors.

Costa Rica also prioritises its environment. …. [U]niquely among tropical countries, Costa Rica reversed deforestation, chiefly through tough laws. Today, 52 per cent of the country’s surface is forest, twice as much as 30 years ago.

Simon Kuper, “Costa Rica’s good life“, Financial Times Magazine, 8 August 2015 (metered paywall).

Click on the link to read the full article (free registration required). I agree that Costa Rica is a social and environmental success story. And, Manuel Antonio is a beautiful national park. But tourists can now “hardly buy a thing inside it”? This worries me. When I last visited the park, many years ago, all commercial activity was prohibited!


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