Does This Colombian City Prove You Can Be Poor And Happy?
Latin America is starting to measure happiness or "well-being" levels to gauge social trends and set public policy. Surprising results in Cali, Colombia.
CALI — Gauging satisfaction among citizens has become a key factor in formulating public policy. It involves countless factors that all affect quality of life, but in broad terms such surveys tell us how people feel about their lives and perceive their immediate future.
Yet this average hides factors that are hugely relevant to creating public policies. For example, the results show that people of ethnic minorities are less satisfied, which is at least an indicator of discrimination. Women on average declare themselves to be more satisfied with their lives, but they are paid less money or are far more affected than men by unemployment or the inability to save money. People without children say they are more satisfied than those with children, as do those who have a good education, compared to those have not.
Cali's citizens are incredibly optimistic about their economic conditions, though almost half work in the informal sector and very few have enough savings to last them three months, in case of an external "liquidity shock." Furthermore, very few people are able to buy assets here, fewer than 30% own some type of real estate, and only 31% own a motorized vehicle. But they believe they are doing better than their parents and are generally happy with their living standards. That may suggest the average resident in Cali is conformist or that their personal references allow them to be satisfied with what they have. The poll results prompt many questions, such as with whom people in Cali compare themselves.
The CaliBRANDO survey began in 2014 and is to be conducted annually to offer representative data for the city. These results, it is hoped, will help improve municipal governance, allow smarter allocation of resources, and inform the local government about whether it's successfully communicating its actions.