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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Global Wellbeing Update Reveals Clear Need for Action

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.

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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.
This measure is just one of dozens Gallup tracks worldwide. Our researchers have found it to have immense value in terms of its ability to summarize all of the objective and subjective factors people take into account when people rate their lives.

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 or call 202.715.3030.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Americans, Nigerians, and Iraqis Have in Common

Americans, Nigerians, and Iraqis -- despite their distinct economic and political situations -- are incredibly diverse societies that "share an opportunity to create an environment where the talents of all of their people are utilized."  It's an opportunity -- and responsibility -- that exists for all countries.

That was a key message of the event co-sponsored by Gallup and the Club de Madrid at our Washington, D.C., headquarters Thursday.  The Club de Madrid, an organization composed of 81 former presidents and prime ministers, made its case for shared societies -- that is, societies "where everyone has a stake and everyone has a responsibility."

Carlos Westendorp, Secretary General of the Club de Madrid, said creating shared societies "is not only morally just but economically efficient . . . An inclusive approach will lead to benefits for all."

The economic argument for socially inclusive shared societies was examined in detail using Gallup research from 103 countries in 2009.

Gallup Senior Analyst Magali Rheault presented Gallup findings documenting that societies where greater percentages see their communities as a good place for racial and ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians are those with the highest GDP per capita.  However, most countries -- and the countries the lowest GDP per capita on average -- have relatively high acceptance of racial and ethnic minorities but not of gays and lesbians.  No country has a high acceptance of gays and lesbians but not of racial and ethnic minorities.

The findings document the challenge at hand. "The concept of shared societies should apply to all types of economies," Rheault said. "No country is exempt."

Bolstering the economic argument for fully inclusive shared societies, Gallup's findings documented a strong, positive relationship between acceptance of gays and lesbians and GDP per capita. This relationship is far more straight forward than the relationship between acceptance of racial and ethnic minorities and GDP per capita.

Gallup's Steve Crabtree analyses the "U-shaped" relationship between acceptance of racial and ethnic minorities and GDP in a article released in coordination with the event. "Gallup data indicate that among the world's poorer countries, residents are less likely to see their communities as good places for racial and ethnic minorities as GDP increases," Crabtree writes. "Among countries with average annual incomes above $8,000, however, higher GDP levels are linked to more widespread perceptions of minority acceptance."

The findings are a great example of the power of Gallup's behavioral economic data, especially when examined in relation with other economic indicators.

You can read more about our how some of our key measures relate to GDP in the following analyses:
Egyptians', Tunisians' Wellbeing Plummets Despite GDP Gains
Worldwide, 40% Are Employed Full Time for an Employer
Sub-Saharan Africans Struggle Financially Even as GDP Grows
Wellbeing Higher With Certain Conditions Beyond GDP

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Gallup Metrics to Watch as the Presidential Election Season Begins

With President Obama officially launching his 2012 re-election campaign, presidential election campaign season is here again.  Though the Republican hopefuls have yet to announce their intentions, we're monitoring the dynamics of the race as it takes shape.

Here's a quick rundown of what's available -- and in the works -- in terms of Election 2012 coverage from

We're in the process of folding all of this data into a fabulous Election 2012 interactive guaranteed to keep election watchers up to date on every metric that matters. We'll launch it in a few weeks and will evolve it as the race progresses. You can also count on Gallup for the best historical context available anywhere, based on our presidential election polling going back to 1936.

In the meantime, explore all of our recent Election 2012 stories and sign up to receive new ones via e-mail alert or RSS feed here.

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