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Global Well-Being Surveys Find Nations Worlds Apart

Global Well-Being Surveys Find Nations Worlds Apart

by Cynthia English

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup's global snapshot of well-being reveals a vast divide that underscores the diversity of economic development challenges around the world. The percentage who are "thriving" ranges from a high of 82% in Denmark to a low of 1% in Togo.

Global Wellbeing: Who's Thriving Worldwide Map

Using data collected in 155 countries or areas since 2005, Gallup classifies respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering," according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

Adults within each of the four major regions are often worlds apart in how they evaluate their lives. Africa has the lowest well-being; no country in this region has a thriving percentage higher than 25%. In fact, of the 41 countries where the thriving percentage is 10% or lower, more than half are in Africa. Conversely, in the Americas, where "thriving" is highest, the only countries with less than a quarter thriving are Cuba (24%) and Haiti (4%). "Thriving" in the Americas is highest in Costa Rica (63%) and Canada (62%), followed closely by Panama (58%), Brazil (58%), and the United States (57%).

Percentage Thriving by Region Table

There is a clear well-being divide between the wealthier countries of northern, western, and central Europe and some poorer countries within eastern and southern Europe. Self-reported well-being is lowest in Bulgaria (6%) and highest in Denmark (82%) and Finland (75%). In several of the largest European economies, like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, well-being falls roughly in the middle. Similar disparities are evident in Asia. Thriving is 60% or higher in New Zealand (63%), Israel (62%), and Australia (62%) and 10% or lower in 11 nations. Cambodia rounds out the bottom with 3% "thriving."

Read the complete findings from Gallup's Global Well-Being report including data for all 155 countries.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Using the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, Gallup measures life satisfaction by asking respondents to place the status of their lives on a "ladder" scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life. Individuals who rate their current lives a "7" or higher AND their future an "8" or higher are "Thriving." Individuals are "Suffering" if they report their current AND future lives as a "4" and lower. All other individuals are "Struggling."

Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2005 and 2009 in 155 countries. For results based on the total samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±2.1 percentage points in China to ±5.8 percentage points in Zambia. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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