Anastasia Cunningham and Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writers
Manchester is the happiest parish in Jamaica. That's according to The Gleaner 'Happiness Survey of Residents of Jamaica'. Registering 8.3 on a scale of zero to 10, Manchester beat St Ann and Trelawny, both tying with 8.0.
"This is very, very pleasant news," declared mayor of Mandeville, Brenda Ramsay, who is also the chairman of the Manchester Parish Council, which oversees the parish.
"I must say that I am a little surprised, but then again not so surprised. Surprised because of the negatives coming out of the closure of the bauxite aluminium companies, and people losing their jobs and so on."
However, she added, "When you consider factors such as that we have an excellent education system spread right through to the university level, I believe that this has influenced people and their thinking."
Responding to the survey findings that Clarendon has the least happy residents, with a score of 6.4, mayor of May Pen, Scean Barnswell, also expressed surprise.
He theorised, however, that this could be the result of a number of factors. Namely, the high level of unemployment in the parish, the breakdown of the family structure, the many households being run by single mothers, as well as the issue of crime.
In the meantime, the survey also revealed that women were happier than men, with a score of 7.6 compared to 7.0. Both sexes agreed that women were happier because women were being supported by men, have it easier and were not as stressed.
The men who said they were happy listed being carefree with fewer responsibilities, not being stressed and not having any children to support as the main reasons.
The survey showed that Jamaicans 65 years and older were happiest, scoring 7.7, while those aged 25 to 34 years were least happy with a score of 7.1.
Persons who had a strong religious affiliation were happiest, scoring 7.9, compared to the 6.9 who were not very religious.
Twenty-two per cent of those surveyed said they were happy because they had a good life and health. On the other hand, 32 per cent shared that they were unhappy because they had no money and 35 per cent said they would be much happier if they got a lot of money, including winning the lottery.
Among the other reasons given for their state of happiness, 79 per cent listed family life; 75 per cent said children; 44 per cent said they had a good job with job security; while 69 per cent said exercise was a good mood lifter.
Interestingly, only two per cent said having sex made them happy and only three per cent listed getting a higher degree or better education.
Fifty-four per cent of those interviewed said they considered politicians to be the happiest, and six per cent named firemen, making the firefighters the least happy.
The survey, which was conducted earlier this month by Johnson Survey Research Limited, was done to measure Jamaica's happiness index in commemoration of International Day of Happiness.
- Horace Fisher contributed to this story