Dispatches From Mexico City: Despite Growing Pessimism, Citizens Remain Happy
It seems I’m not the only one to be happy living in Mexico. According to a new survey from Gallup, Mexico is the fourth happiest country in the world (bearing in mind that the research firm only surveyed 55 countries). Fully 84 percent of Mexicans described themselves as happy, while just two percent said they were unhappy, 10 percent were neutral, and three percent didn’t know or didn’t answer.
Interestingly, happiness in the present doesn’t seem to cancel out pessimism toward the future. The Gallup International 41st Annual Global End of Year Survey also found Mexico to be among the 10 most pessimistic countries in the world. When asked if they believed 2018 would be better, worse, or the same as 2017, 38 percent were neutral, 34 percent were pessimists, and 26 percent described themselves as optimists.
Also, 46 percent of those surveyed had a dour outlook toward economic prosperity in the year ahead, while 40 percent claimed neutrality. Only 11 percent had an optimistic outlook toward their economic future.
For comparison’s sake, the Gallup survey found 64 percent of respondents in the United States were happy, 20 percent neutral, and 14 percent unhappy.
My Own Experience
Digging into those numbers a bit, from a personal perspective, I do believe they trend toward accurate representation. The people in Mexico generally seem to be happy and friendly, but with the next major election looming this year, there are serious doubts about the country’s stability. Late last year, new laws solidified the military’s role in the drug war and allow the president to deploy federal troops within Mexico’s border without the approval of Congress.
Though, in many ways, this has been occurring since 2006 when then-President Felipe Calderon sent troops to the state of Michoacan during a battle between warring cartels. And there is some support for the initiative from locals, who view the military as less corruptible than local police officers. Still, the United Nations and various rights groups have all warned against the new legislation.
This, combined with U.S. President Trump still lobbying Congress for money to build his border wall, undoubtedly is having an impact on Mexican outlook.
But as we’ve seen time and again, folks here tend toward a “grin and bear it” mentality. Indeed, another survey from last year — The Happy Planet Index — placed Mexico as the second happiest place on earth. But the 2017 World Happiness Report, which looks at 155 countries, ranked Mexico as 25th.
Whatever happens though, this next year will be an interesting time for Mexico. Hopefully, the happiness can hold off the pessimism until things start to improve.
Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday or so, he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City. Oh, but sometimes he pops up in his home nation of Canada.