Country rankings don't paint the whole picture — happiness-driven resource allocation and expat resources

How are countries measured?

Latin America reports higher life evaluation than other regions

It may not be so evident in the maps, but there are some countries that report higher trust and life satisfaction than average.

Resource allocation: investing, not just measuring

Harvard Business School's Clayton Christensen believed you can apply management thinking to measure your own life. Among the lessons he imparted, he advocated that you can talk about indicators, data, and happiness research as much as you like, but resource allocation is where the rubber hits the road.

“With every moment of your time, every decision about how you spend your energy and your money, you are making a statement about what really matters to you.”

― Clayton M. Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?

Meaning, if your resources (time, money) are spent in developing yourself or your business, improving your home, or acquiring nicer things, but not in passively investing in your family and friends, consequences can be hard to detect when they arise.

“The relationships you have with family and close friends are going to be the most important sources of happiness in your life. But you have to be careful. When it seems like everything at home is going well, you will be lulled into believing that you can put your investments in these relationships onto the back burner. That would be an enormous mistake. By the time serious problems arise in those relationships, it often is too late to repair them. This means, almost paradoxically, that the time when it is most important to invest in building strong families and close friendships is when it appears, at the surface, as if it’s not necessary.”
Clayton M. Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?

According to Clayton, family and friends come first. Perhaps there may be cultural learnings that high-income countries can learn from Latin America.

For Good Measure: Ideas for government allocation

So, how can governments apply the above to foster quality of life improvements? Some ideas could be extrapolated to public resource allocation and actions:

  1. Apply data-driven urban planning. Governments can invest in spaces and existing institutions that foster family and friend connectivity, and also infrastructures that improve walkability, mobility, innovation, among other things. Data-driven decision making is crucial for this to happen. The Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan Solutions and Barcelona's efforts in urban transformation can be good places to start if you are an urban planner or mayor who wants to proactively improve your city's livability.

For Informed Action: Resources for expats and nomads

What about migration? How to find the ideal cities/countries for me to work in?

  1. Look at minimum annual leaves by country. This will give you an idea of the country's culture on vacation and personal time off. Also look at policies around paid parental leave, and sick time off. European countries fare pretty well in this regard, while still maintaining their productivity levels.
  2. Look at universal healthcare by country. If you or your loved ones get sick, especially into your 30s or 40s, you don't want to go broke. This is especially important if you plan to have a family. If you're working remote-first, try to get global healthcare and insurance coverage.
  3. Target higher-income country sources and high expat satisfaction. If you want the freedom to travel and move around the world, you're going to need a higher income-cost of living margin.
  4. Compare salaries and evaluate the move. You may be able to look at salary averages on Glassdoor, use Movebuddha's tool to evaluate if you should move to a region for work (and Nerdwallet's cost of living calculator if you're moving within the US).
  5. Compare lifestyle and welcomeness. Nomad list can be a good source of information regarding lifestyle. Here's a list for the World's most welcoming countries for expats for reference as well.

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davidfchang

davidfchang

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Technology adoption, market creation, and capacity building in LATAM. Ecuatoriano.