canary islands

No Canary Islands cities among world’s happiest, new report indicates

The London-based Quality of Life Institute's global happiness rankings include cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, León, and Valencia, but notably exclude any cities from the Canary Islands.

A recent comprehensive study by the London-based Quality of Life Institute has surprisingly omitted any cities from the Canary Islands in its list of the world’s 200 happiest cities. The ranking does, however, feature several other Spanish cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia, and León.

Conceptual complexities of happiness measurement

The Institute explicitly acknowledges that measuring happiness is a complex endeavour due to its subjective and multifaceted nature. They underscore the point that it’s virtually impossible to single out any city as the ‘happiest’ because numerous variables influence the well-being and satisfaction levels of its citizens. The concept of happiness doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all definition; it varies from person to person based on age, social status, and personal expectations. For example, what brings happiness to a five-year-old—like safe play areas and quality time with parents—might differ vastly from what an elderly individual or a career-focused adult might seek.

Criteria for measuring happiness

To operationalise this nebulous concept, the Institute set forth five major indicators: education, inclusive policies, economy, mobility, and the environment. Each indicator comprises a gamut of sub-factors. Education might encompass school quality, literacy rates, and access to higher education. Inclusive policies could look at social justice, gender equality, and support for minority groups. Economy would involve not just GDP but also income distribution, employment rates, and opportunities for business. Mobility could include the efficiency and reach of public transport, and the environment might cover issues like sustainability, air quality, and green spaces.

No Canary Islands cities among world's happiest, new report indicates.

City-specific challenges

The report takes into consideration the unique circumstances and challenges each city faces. These can range from population size to natural geographical limitations and geopolitical concerns. It’s not just about what the cities have, but also about what they do with what they have.

Spanish cities in the ranking

Among the Spanish cities, Bilbao stood out with the highest score of 1,464, securing the 69th place on the global list. It suggests that Bilbao excels in creating conditions conducive to the happiness of its residents, likely outperforming in one or more of the specified indicators.

Global leaders

Globally, the Danish city of Aarhus led the list with an overall score of 1,614.2. It was followed by Amsterdam in the Netherlands with a score of 1,578.1, and Bergen in Norway with 1,568.1. These cities have set international benchmarks in fostering environments that contribute to the happiness and well-being of their citizens.

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