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How Do You Measure What Makes Life Worth Living?
Gallup Blog

How Do You Measure What Makes Life Worth Living?

Imagine all the G20 leaders in the same room. The president of the United States, the chancellor of Germany, the president of China, the king of Saudi Arabia and the 16 other leaders of the largest economies in the world. They are all asked one question: "What metric do you follow most closely to know whether your country is on the right track?"

The answer might be easier to guess if it were posed to the CEOs of the world's largest companies, who would likely say, "our share price."

World leaders' answers might be tougher to guess. However, their answers tip us off as to what they focus on most -- the one thing they are most obsessed with improving.

So, what would they say?

Would they say, "gross domestic product"? The stock market? Unemployment? The poverty rate? The GINI coefficient? Would the Saudi king say, "oil prices?"

Perhaps leaders would not mention an economic indicator at all. Instead, maybe they would talk about crime statistics, such as how many people have been arrested or murdered. Maybe the leaders of democracies would say, "my approval rating."

I know what they would not say: Not a single world leader would say, "how people's lives are going." There might be a few who say, "I care most about how people's lives are going, but you can't measure that."

The 2020 Global Emotions Report fills this gap by measuring how people live their lives. This report quantifies -- at the country level -- whether people are enjoying life and learning new and interesting things. It measures whether people feel well-rested or if they feel extreme stress, sadness, worry or physical pain.

In short, it measures almost everything that makes life worth living.

The world is good at quantifying nearly all the events and transactions in our lives, from when we are born, to everything we make and buy, to how and when we die. What the world is not good at is quantifying how we feel and how we experience life -- even though how we feel affects all the other measures.

This report's goal is to correct that.

Read the full report.


Jon Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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