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Monday, March 28, 2011

A Global Standard -- That Goes Far Beyond "Happiness"

As Carl Bialik wrote in The Wall Street Journal this weekend, "Governments, academics and pollsters are hot on the trail of happiness."

It's true, in the sense that we at Gallup are learning as much as we can about what makes a happy, healthy, productive life.  It's also true that we and academics have already learned a lot about how this information relates to everything from our jobs to our country to hints of discontent at times when things are seemingly getting better. It's also true in the sense that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is the latest leader to see the value in collecting such information.

What's not true, however, is that this is just about "happiness."

Read coverage of our work, and that of others, and you certainly might get that sense.  But it's about so much more than that.  It's about the attitudes that translate into behaviors that either move a country forward or set it back.

As our CEO Jim Clifton writes in a comment for RSA: "Lousy leadership and miserable citizens create the wrong economic outcomes. They also create low levels of wellbeing, the metrics of which are often referred to as behavioural economics. These behavioural economic metrics are invaluable because they are instructive insights into the states of mind that people are in before they make good or bad decisions."

He also notes that "very few leaders, however, have data on their citizens’ states of mind."

That's the gap Gallup is trying to fill by surveying people in more than 150 countries around the world about all aspects of their wellbeing. We measure and track every aspect of an individual's state of mind.  And not just because it's incredibly eye-opening.  But because it affects everything else that happens in the world.

Understanding what citizens think and what they perceive is critical to understanding what they ultimately do.

Take for example, the economy.  If people think the economy is getting worse and worry about losing their job, they aren't going to spend money or start a business.  Period.  No matter what classical economics tells us about GDP.

So, we aren't as much hot on the trail of happiness as we are hot on the trail of everything that influences everything that happens.  What's more -- because our metrics are global, we can compare countries to countries, regions to regions, groups to groups, to help us identify the leaders, stragglers, and outliers in our world.

We're taking an important step forward in this effort with the upcoming launch of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in the United Kingdom.  This project extends the ground-breaking research we pioneered with the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in the United States.  It will provide a daily measure of wellbeing in the U.K. just like the one that has already yielded so many discoveries in the U.S.

While the U.K. government's effort is commendable in that it recognizes the need, it won't go nearly as in-depth as our extensive list of questions does, and it won't be part of a larger, global wellbeing data set that is comparable across countries like ours is.

We are quite simply providing a global standard with which to measure the state of mind of a civilization.  So while one country's scientific measure of "happiness" may or may not interest you  -- our global wellbeing metrics most certainly should.

Stay up to date our our all of our wellbeing research and discoveries by signing up to receive our wellbeing news via e-mail alert or RSS and also by following our wellbeing blog Thrive.

To learn more about Gallup's global wellbeing research in more than 150 countries worldwide, please contact  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Send Us Your Feedback and Ideas! has seen incredible growth over the past few years, building our audience both on and off the site.

Our goal is to become a "must-visit" destination for anyone seeking objective, empirical evidence on what is happening in the world.  We also hope to make our news and data as interesting and engaging as possible.

To that end, we want to learn more about how you use and what you would like to see from us going forward.  You can send us your feedback and ideas by completing this short survey by Friday, March 25.

While it won't be a nationally representative Gallup poll, we're hoping as many readers as possible will share their opinions with us, to help us better serve all of our readers going forward.  I also plan to share some of what we learn from you on this blog in the coming weeks.

We thank you in advance for helping us to improve

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Explore Our Data by State, Metro Area, and Congressional District

We've reported over the past few weeks about the "State of the States" on various political, economic, and wellbeing measures.  You can find all of these stories and explore the data for yourself in our State of the States interactive.

This week, we're bringing this data even closer to home, beginning our reports by metropolitan area.  In our first report, Dan Witters reveals that residents of Boulder, Colo., and Lincoln, Neb., have the highest well-being in the nation.  He also finds that Washington, D.C., residents do best among those living in the largest metro area.

It's just the first of several stories we'll bring to you as we report to you about the wellbeing of U.S. cities. It's our goal at Gallup to help leaders target their efforts to improve wellbeing -- and, in turn, economic outcomes -- to the areas of the greatest need and opportunity.

In tandem with these reports, we're pleased to launch our new U.S. City Wellbeing Tracking interactive  which will allow you to compare and sort metro area results for overall wellbeing, diabetes, obesity, frequent exercise, frequent produce consumption, city optimism, and the uninsured as we release them. You can even save and share a scorecard for your community.

We have so much data that we partnered The New York Times to help bring more of that data to life.  The feature their interactive team created allows you to map many of our key wellbeing by congressional district.  It gives every congressional representative a report card of how their constituents are faring in terms of their physical health, work environments, and community optimism.

All of these data are made possible by our Gallup Daily tracking project and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which together provide us the opportunity to interview 1,000 U.S. adults every night. We aggregate the nightly samples to create robust representative samples by state, metropolitan area, and congressional district.

The project has been so successful that we will soon, together with Healthways, launch a similar project in the United Kingdom.  We will release the inaugural findings on April 12 and you will thereafter read much more about the wellbeing of Britons on

To make sure you get all of our future stories -- data by city, from the United Kingdom, and beyond -- sign up to receive our All Gallup Headlines via e-mail alert or RSS.

In the meantime, we encourage you to share these findings with leaders in your community to help to improve health, happiness, and productivity where you live.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thank You to Our 10,000 Twitter Followers!

Guest post by Deputy Managing Editor Elizabeth Mendes

We are thrilled today to be celebrating 10,000 @gallupnews Twitter followers. joined Twitter 1,324 days ago, and we are grateful to the thousands of you who follow, share, and discuss our news.

We entered the Twitter world at the same time that we relaunched as a unique source for fast-paced, data-driven news covering political, economic, and social issues.

Twitter is a great avenue for us to quickly share our breaking news, data, and insights with our key audiences: government and business leaders, media, and influencers worldwide. The conversations our Twitter followers have about our news and findings are crucial to Gallup’s mission of helping organizations, cities, and countries solve the world's foremost problems.

Your comments and discussions about news move the conversations forward on the important topics we cover and also shed light on what the most pressing issues are in the world today.

Our team collected about one month’s worth of recent Twitter comments about data and news stories and used them to make a word cloud to find out what people are talking about the most. graphic designer Michelle Krogmeier pulled out the most frequently used words and incorporated them into the jazzy graphic above.

One topic stands out far above the rest -- Unemployment. That unemployment -- which Gallup tracks daily -- is currently our most talked-about news topic underscores the extent of the jobs issue in America.

Other highly discussed topics include the GOP and the candidates potentially vying for that party’s 2012 presidential nomination (Palin and Romney appear to be cited about equally), Obama, and collective bargaining rights. These are all topics about which only can provide the collective thoughts and opinions of the American people.

So, thank you to all of our followers! We hope you will continue to discuss our news and encourage thousands of others to follow @gallupnews on Twitter.

Graphic by Michelle Krogmeier/Research by Joseph Costa

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

State of the States Top 10s . . . So Far

We're well into our reporting on the "State of the States" based on Gallup Daily tracking data collected throughout 2010. In case you're just catching up, here's a quick look at the headlines and top 10 lists so far:

Number of Solidly Democratic States Cut in Half From '08 to '10: There were 14 solidly Democratic states in 2010, down from 30 in 2008. In addition to the District of Columbia, the most solidly Democratic states are Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Hawaii. The most solidly Republican states are Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho.

D.C., Hawaii Still Most Approving of Obama; All States Decline
: Approval of President Barack Obama in 2010 ranged from a high of 84% in the District of Columbia to 28% in Wyoming. Approval fell in 2010 compared with 2009 in all 50 states and D.C.

Mississippi Rates as the Most Conservative U.S. State: Mississippi is not only the most conservative state in the U.S. but also the first state in three years of Gallup Daily tracking to have more than 50% of residents identify as conservative. D.C., Vermont, and Rhode Island have the most self-identified liberals.

North Dakota and Washington, D.C., Best Job Markets in 2010: Job markets improved the most in 2010 in Michigan, D.C., and North Dakota, while getting worse in New Mexico. Overall, the best job markets were in North Dakota, D.C., and South Dakota while the worst job markets were in Nevada, New Jersey and California.

There are many more top 10 lists to come. We'll report economic confidence by state on Wednesday and underemployment by state on Friday. Next week, we'll report our key wellbeing metrics by state.

You can find the complete data for all of these metrics in our updated "State of the States" interactive. The feature allows you to map, sort, and export data across measures and also to save your own map or chart.

To make sure you get every story as soon as it is published, sign up to receive "All Gallup Headlines" via e-mail alert or RSS feed. Additionally, if there is a measure we track daily that you would like us to report on at the state or city level, please send your suggestion to

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