WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Germans' and Britons' life ratings have changed little in recent months, remaining on par with 2011, even as both nations continue to grapple with the escalating debt crisis in Europe. Germany earned a Life Evaluation score of 38 in July and the UK a score of 46 -- similar to the monthly scores found in 2011.
Although Britons appeared to downgrade how they viewed their lives in December 2011 and the first months of 2012, the nation's collective Life Evaluation Index scores rose in May, June, and July. Similarly, in Germany, life ratings dipped in November and December 2011, possibly due to the seasonal effect of winter conditions, but have since recovered and remain about on par with scores recorded earlier in 2011.
Gallup and Healthways have been tracking Germans' life ratings monthly since March 2011 and Britons' since January 2011 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The overall Life Evaluation Index score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents who are suffering from the percentage who are thriving. Gallup classifies respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. People are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and expectations for their lives in five years an 8 or higher. People who rate their current or future lives a 4 or lower are classified as suffering. All others are considered struggling.
More Britons are thriving than struggling, as has been the case in every month since March of this year and during most of the time Gallup and Healthways have been tracking life ratings in the country. Fifty-one percent of Britons rated their lives highly enough to be considered thriving in July, while 45% rate their lives poorly enough to be categorized as struggling, and a small 4% are so pessimistic about their lives that they are considered suffering.
Germans, on the other hand, continue to be much more likely to be struggling than thriving. But, aside from a downturn in life ratings in the winter, the percentage of Germans who are thriving and struggling has been mostly steady.
Despite the nation's better economic position compared with the UK, Germans consistently rate their lives less highly than do Britons -- including being more likely to be suffering, at 7% in July. Part of the reason for this is that older Germans are much more pessimistic about their lives than are older Britons, according to previous Gallup research. Why this is remains unclear. It is possible that cultural and economic differences both play a role.
Until recently, Germany has been able to steer clear of the economic troubles facing other European countries. However, as conditions in Spain, Italy, Greece, and other eurozone nations continue to worsen, Germany is beginning to feel the effects. Previously, Germany's rapidly growing exports to countries overseas, especially to China, buffered the falling demand in southern Europe. But, with China's economic motor losing steam as well, economic growth of the eurozone's biggest economy is losing momentum.
Additionally, German businesses' confidence fell in August to the lowest level since March 2010, according to the Ifo Institute, a leading German economic research institute. Some economists expect even weaker economic growth for the rest of the year. These conditions may starts to adversely affect what has been a generally strong labor market in Germany. If the German economy continues along this path, it is possible that residents will begin to report a worsening outlook for their lives.
However, even though the UK entered back into recession earlier in 2012, Britons have essentially retained the same life ratings as they did through most of 2011. That UK residents are not radically altering how they view their lives despite the scourge of recession is not new. Gallup found Britons' life ratings, measured through its World Poll prior to 2011, were steady from 2005 to 2010, even amid the tumultuous global economic downturn.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S., U.K., and Germany and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey with a random sample of approximately 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older, each month, living in Germany and in the UK, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ± 4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, education, region, adults in the household, and cell phone status. Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recently published data from the German Statistics Office. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit https://www.gallup.com/.