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Quantifying Love Around the World

by Justin Wolfers

It's hard not to think about love on Valentine's Day. Fortunately, we also have data. As part of the World Poll, Gallup spent 2006 and 2007 visiting 136 countries and asked people, "Did you experience the following feelings during a lot of the day yesterday? How about love?" The result is the most comprehensive global index of love ever constructed.

On a typical day, around 70% of the world's population report that they experienced love the day before. Given the question, this need not be the romantic kind of love typically celebrated on Valentine's Day -- it may also be the love of a child, a parent, family, or good friends. Needless to say, all are worth celebrating.

In the United States, feelings of love were a bit more widespread, with 81% of Americans experiencing it for a lot of the day. That's good enough to be ranked toward the top of the list.


The world leader in love is the Philippines, where fully 93% of the population reported feeling love; Rwanda isn't far behind at 92%, and Puerto Rico is the only other population surveyed where at least nine in 10 respondents reported feeling love.

At the other end of the scale, we're predicting a quieter Valentine's Day in Armenia, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan, where fewer than one in three people experienced love. It is important to note that differences between countries may be due to how cultures define "love" and not in actual day-to-day experiences. For example, in some countries, the idea of "love" is restricted to a romantic partner, while in others it extends to one's family members and friends.


View the full ranking here. For further breakdowns of these data, see my article with, well, my valentine and fellow University of Michigan Professor Betsey Stevenson.

For more on Stevenson, Wolfers, and the economics of love, see this earlier interview and this New York Times profile.


Justin Wolfers, Ph.D., is Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and Professor of Economics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, at the University of Michigan. He is a Senior Scientist at Gallup.

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