- 98% of Afghans are suffering
- 26% see their life today as the worst possible
- 39% expect their life in five years will be the worst possible
This article is part of a series based on Gallup's surveys in Afghanistan one year after the Taliban's takeover.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Suffering in Afghanistan rocketed to a record high last year after the Taliban took over, but Gallup's latest surveys in the country show Afghans' lives are even more miserable now, and they've fully lost hope that their future will be any better.
One year after the Taliban returned to power, almost all Afghans -- 98% -- rate their life so poorly that they are considered suffering. This percentage tops the previous high of 94% in 2021, measured as the Taliban seized full control and the U.S. withdrew its troops.
Gallup classifies individuals as "thriving," "struggling" or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from zero to 10, based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Those who rate their current life and anticipated life in five years a 4 or lower are classified as suffering.
Zero is the worst possible life rating on this scale. On average, Afghans rate their current life at a 1.3 and their life in five years at a 1.0 -- illustrating the loss of hope that most Afghans are feeling. But for many Afghans, the situation is even worse than that: More than one in four (26%) rate their current life a zero, and nearly four in 10 (39%) expect their life in five years will be a zero.
Suffering Universal Among Men and Women
While Afghan women held a slight edge over men in 2021, suffering is now universal among men and women: 98% of women and 97% of men in 2022 rate their life poorly enough to be considered suffering. Most of the increase in suffering in the past year has been among men; 92% were suffering in 2021.
However, Afghan women continue to be particularly pessimistic about their life in the future. When asked how they would rate their life in five years on a scale from zero to 10, the average score for women is 0.9 in 2022. For men, the average score is 1.1.
These scores are not surprising, given that the Taliban has increasingly restricted women from participating in many aspects of public life -- including work and education. Most recently, the Taliban has banned women from visiting public parks.
Even the Richest Afghans Are Suffering
In 2021, it was not surprising to see that the poorest Afghans were most likely to be suffering while the wealthiest -- those in the top 20% for income -- were not as miserable. In 2022, misery was more equally distributed.
While all of the poorest Afghans rate their life poorly to be considered suffering, no less than 95% of Afghans in any income group are in the suffering category.
Life was already extremely difficult for Afghans before the Taliban returned to power, but the situation has only become more difficult since, and the future looks bleak. The country's economy is in ruins, and the United Nations estimates that half of Afghans -- some 20 million people -- suffer from acute hunger.
Further, the Taliban recently ordered judges to fully impose their interpretation of Sharia law -- including potential public executions -- which some experts fear could lead to even more loss of Afghans' human rights.
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