Happiness Improves Despite Economic Confidence Falling

WIN GallupWIN/Gallup International’s 40th Annual Global End of Year Survey reveals happiness improves despite economic confidence falling

WIN/Gallup International, the world’s leading association in market research and polling, has published today its 40th Annual End of Year Survey exploring the outlook, expectations, views and beliefs of 66541 people from 66 countries across the globe.


  • 68% of the world said that they feel happy about their lives, an increase from 66% last year; 22% are neither happy nor unhappy, and 9% feel unhappy about their lives.
  • Net happiness (happy minus unhappy) globally is +59%; an increase from +56% last year.
  • Fiji and China are the happiest countries of the world (+89% and +80% net happiness respectively), followed by Philippines, Vietnam, Panama, Indonesia and Paraguay while Iraq is the least happy for the third year in a row (less than +1% net happiness).
  • 42% of the world is optimistic about the economic outlook for 2017; 22% are pessimistic and 31% believe the economy will remain the same. Net economic optimism is at +20%.
  • The most optimistic countries about economic prosperity in 2017 are Ghana (+68% net optimistic) and Bangladesh (+67% net optimistic). In contrast, South Korea, Hong Kong and Greece are the most pessimistic (-62%, -56% and -53% respectively).

Happiness: A happier world albeit with some stark regional differences

Two in three (68%) citizens of the world report being happy, a figure which has risen 2% from twelve months ago, despite a year in which the world has seen considerable change and a year of frequent and bloody terrorist attacks. Of the 66541 people surveyed, 9% said that they were unhappy, down from 10% at the end of 2015. Overall this means that the world is +59% net happy (happiness minus unhappiness).

But regionally the story is very different with those in East Asia and Oceania significantly happier than those in the Middle East. For example, happiness in Fiji and China, the net happiest countries of the world (net scores of +89% and +80% respectively) is in stark contrast to happiness in Iraq, which rates as the unhappiest of all 66 countries surveyed (net score of less than +1%).

The Beatles wrote “money can’t buy me love” – but the findings suggest it does however correlate strongly with happiness – those in the bottom quintile of income record a net happiness score of +33% compared with a score of +75% for those in the top quintile; irrespective of nations in which they reside.

Economic Optimism: Globally high but lower than last year

When it comes to economic outlook despite much of the world largely remaining out of recession, economic optimism has declined from twelve months ago. The study shows that 42% of the world is optimistic for the economic outlook in 2017, almost double (22%) of those who are pessimistic. Net optimism (the percentage of those saying next year will be one of economic prosperity minus the percentage who say next year will be one of economic difficulty) has fallen from +23% to +20%.

While globally just over two in five (42%) say next year will be one of economic prosperity, there are very significant differences across the globe. European citizens are significantly less optimistic than anywhere else in the world: EU Europe net score of -26% and Non-EU Europe net score of -20%. The challenges posed to the very future of the EU project in 2016 may well have created economic doubt within the world’s largest economic bloc. Within Europe, economic pessimism is most acutely felt in Italy (net score of -48%), the UK (net score of -38%) and France (net score of -35%). Only Korea and Hong Kong, who have witnessed a year of political and economic turmoil, are more pessimistic (net scores of -62% and -56%). The most optimistic nations when it comes to the economy were Ghana and Bangladesh (+68% and +67% net optimism respectively). When it comes to a demographic breakdown, young people prove to be considerably more optimistic than older generations with 34% under 34 years of age net optimistic compared to -7% over the age of 55.

Hope: High amongst Middle and Low Income Nations

As most of the world welcomes a New Year, we see a majority (52%) of the planet feeling that overall 2017 will be better than 2016, although one in seven (15%) feel it will be worse (giving a net score of +37%, which represents a small drop of 2% points from a year ago). Those living in some of the fastest growing countries in the world (Bangladesh net +77%, Ghana net +76%, Ivory Cost +72%, Fiji +62%, China net +56%, India net +55% and Brazil net +51%) are the most hopeful for the year ahead. However, it is the economic superblocks of the EU (net score of 1%) and North America (net score of +11%) which show the least optimism for improvement. With Prime Minister Renzi losing a referendum this month and with an economic recovery that does not take off, it is perhaps of no surprise that it is the Italians (net score of -42%) who are most concerned about the year ahead.

Analysis: Global Income Redistribution drives national outlooks on Economic Optimism and Pessimism

Polling data combined with World Bank Bigdata on Gross National Income (GNI) shows a clear link between economic outlook for the year 2017 and global redistribution of Income (GNI) during the last one decade.

During the recent 10 years (2005-15), the Tier One Rich Countries (30 nations with average annual per capita income of 45,000 US dollars) lost 10% in their share in global economy. This Group in the opinion poll is at present the most pessimistic in their economic outlook for 2017 (-17% Net Score). The Tier Two Middle Income Countries (12 nations with average annual per capita income of 13,000 US dollars) gained 10% in their share in global economy. This group in the survey is at present the most optimistic in economic outlook for 2017 (+30%). The Tier Three Low Income countries (175 nations with average annual per capita income of 7,000 US dollars) which retained its share in global economy during the last decade hangs in between the Tier One and Tier Two in terms of economic outlook (+26%). See Exhibit 5 on page 11.

Vilma Scarpino, President of WIN/Gallup International Association, said: “The world is witnessing changing income distribution across nations. The old rich are losing while the new rich are gaining ground. This transition is reflected in their outlooks on hope about 2017. Fortunately, happiness is becoming unrelated to views on economic outlook. The rich nations of the Western World are happy despite their gloomy outlook on economic prospects. As a result, the global community as a whole reveals a happy majority, in fact slightly happier than a year ago.”



The WIN/Gallup Internationalsurvey is an annual tradition initiated by and designed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. It is conducted every year since then. This year it was carried out by the WIN/Gallup International Association in 66 countries around the world. It is the poll’s 40th anniversary.

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

A total of 66541 people were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed either face to face (25 countries; n=29211), via telephone (13 countries; n=10754), online (25 countries; n=23947) or through mixed methods (3 countries; n=2629). The field work was conducted during October-December 2016. The margin of error for the survey is between +/-3-5% at 95% confidence level.

About WIN/Gallup International

WIN/Gallup International is the leading association in market research and polling (registered and headquartered in Zürich/Switzerland and not related to Gallup Inc., headquartered in Washington D.C.) * and is made up of the80largest independent market research and polling firms in their respective countries with combined revenue of over€550million and covering95%of the world’s market.

For more than 60 years WIN/Gallup International Members have demonstrated their expert ability to conduct multi-country surveys on a comparable basis and deliver the highest quality. Their Members are leading national institutes with a profound local knowledge of research methods and techniques, statistical sources, customs and culture differences of its own country and carefully selected by the Association Board. With only one Member agency per country, Members work together on a daily basis to share knowledge, new research techniques and tools, as well as to provide the most appropriate solutions to international research projects and service our clients to the best of our abilities.

The accumulated expertise of the Association is formidable – they have internationally renowned experts in public opinion, Third World issues, advertising, and media research as well as in commercial fields such as IT/telecommunications, healthcare, retail, economics, corporate research and so on. Members are at the leading edge of technical and methodological developments, which have impacted on not only the research industry but also the whole commercial world.

* Disclaimer: Gallup International Association or its members are not related to Gallup Inc., headquartered in Washington D.C which is no longer a member of Gallup International Association. Gallup International Association does not accept responsibility for opinion polling other than its own. We require that our surveys be credited fully as Gallup International (not Gallup or Gallup Poll). For further details see website: www.wingia.com,

Opinion Research Committee of WIN/Gallup International: They will be happy to provide comments and explanations required by the media.

Dr. Ijaz Gilani


Johnny Heald


Marita Carballo


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Gallup International Association or its members are not related to Gallup Inc., headquartered in Washington D.C which is no longer a member of Gallup International Association.

Gallup International Association does not accept responsibility for opinion polling other than its own. We require that our surveys be credited fully as Gallup International (not Gallup or Gallup Poll). For further details see: http://www.gallup-international.com/.