Most of the world's citizens aren't anywhere near "the best possible life" for them.
That's the finding -- yet again -- from Gallup's global wellbeing surveys.
A median of 21% of the world's citizens in 2010 rated their lives -- now and five years from now -- well enough to be classified as "thriving." That's an improvement of exactly zero from 2009.
As Gallup's Julie Ray writes: "In Europe, the median percentage thriving in 2009 was 25%, remaining essentially unchanged in 2010 at 28%. Ten percent in Africa were thriving in 2009, compared with 9% in 2010. In Asia, the median remained flat at 18% each year. In the Americas, the 42% thriving in 2009 wasn't significantly different from the 39% thriving in 2010."
Sure, it isn't easy to measurably change millions of lives in a calendar year. But the findings make it clear that leaders need to do much more to change the quality of everyday life for their citizens.
Here are a few statistics to consider:
- More than half of people were thriving in 19 of the 124 countries surveyed.
- The U.S. fell in the middle of the pack of best performers, with 59% thriving.
- In 67 countries, less than 25% of people were thriving.
- In no country in sub-Saharan Africa were more than 19% of people thriving.
- Thriving ranged widely within regions, for example from 72% in Denmark to 9% in Bulgaria.
- One in seven or fewer were thriving in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and Morocco in 2010, where discontent triggered public uprisings in late 2010 and early 2011.
As such, this behavioral economic metric is highly correlated with GDP. At the same time, Gallup has found instances, for example in Egypt and Tunisia, where "thriving" and GDP diverge. This means world leaders need to monitor their citizens' wellbeing closely, even when classic economic indicators look positive.
Gallup has identified key factors that help to increase wellbeing. First and foremost, they must provide reliable law and order, affordable food and shelter, and strong institutions and infrastructure. One those basic needs are met, Gallup has found that the greater the percentage of people who are employed full time for an employer, the higher a country's wellbeing is. Good jobs and high wellbeing together lead the way to brain gain and quality GDP growth.
In addition to our annual surveys, Gallup and Healthways conduct daily wellbeing tracking in the U.S. and the UK, with additional countries to come.
Visit our wellbeing page and sign up to receive All Gallup Headlines to stay up to date on all of our global wellbeing research. For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030. Labels: wellbeing, world