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Scientists Assess Global Wellbeing

by The Gallup Poll Editorial Staff

Gallup's multinational research reveals subjective perspectives of all aspects of life


Washington, D.C. -- Leading scientists from around the world, including Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman; Alan Krueger; Angus Deaton; Ed Diener; and John Helliwell are gathering this week at Gallup's Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss groundbreaking findings on the state of global wellbeing. Gallup's measures of global wellbeing reach beyond traditional indicators such as GDP, poverty rates, healthcare expenditures, literacy levels, and life expectancy rates to incorporate subjective self-reported assessments from people in more than 130 countries on virtually all aspects of life.

Gallup researchers find clear correlations between overall wellbeing and subjective assessments of law and order, food and shelter, work, economics, and health, as well as socioeconomic indicators that go beyond GDP -- including measures of military spending, brain drain, and governance. Together, these findings suggest that measures of subjective wellbeing might help to predict the future of economies and societies as a whole. This behavioral approach to economic forecasting appears to be gaining traction. In September 2007, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in an interview, "If I could figure out a way to determine whether or not people are more fearful or changing to more euphoric . . . I don't need any of this other stuff. I could forecast the economy better than any way I know."

Gallup systematically gathers these behavioral measures by asking respondents to assess qualitative aspects of their life, both overall and during a specific time period. The resulting global Well-Being Index reveals many findings worthy of further investigation and analysis. Income, for example, appears to play a limited role in defining the emotional state of a country. Gallup found that high-income countries such as Slovenia, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong each demonstrate levels of Net Affect that are below average. On the other hand, low-income countries such as Zambia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Laos each display Net Affect that are above the average.

Gallup monitors measures of subjective wellbeing by continuously polling around the globe across samples representing more than 95% of the world's population. By collecting and analyzing these measures, Gallup provides world leaders with better tools to examine and predict the future of economies, the performance of governments, and the momentum of the world's population overall. Gallup plans to release further findings on a contract basis and on


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