Brazilians are famous for being friendly, happy people. They are so happy, in fact, they ranked 9th of 144 countries on the 2009 Happiness Index. So how does one of the happiest countries in the world also rank as one of the most murderous? Globo just reported that official are going to try to “disarm” the population, a response to news of the country’s 50,113 recorded murders in 2008.
In Canada, about 550 people are murdered a year in a country of 35 million people, roughly one-sixth Brazil’s population. In proportionate terms, that’s still about 46,800 fewer murders than in Brazil. In Russia, about 15,000 people are murdered per year, and its population is about three-quarters the size of Brazil’s. So in comparative terms, Brazil’s murder rate is high. But then again, the Americas have some of the highest murder rates in the world, with Honduras, Venezuela, and Jamaica with exceptionally high numbers.
Disarming the population is at best a curative solution, as opposed to a more preventative one such as addressing education, employment, or other more systemic root causes. But it is nonetheless one solution. Is it possible that a little less happiness might make everyone a bit more sensitized to critical social issues such as murder?