Despite the Pandemic and Economic Difficulties Personal Happiness around the World Prevails

At the end of 2021 global hope and happiness are decreasing around the world compared to last year. Fears of upcoming economic difficulties remain high and steadily growing.   The global pandemic clearly still impacts the world’s hopes, fears and expectations – but there are significant differences by region and country by country.

These are some of the findings of “End of Year” survey – the world’s longest running global survey started in 1979 by Gallup International. “End of Year” is an established tradition throughout the world – with its Hope Index, Happiness Index and economic situation expectations trend. This year Bulgarian Kancho Stoychev was reelected president of the Association.

As 2021 draws to a close there is hope for a brighter future around the world, although not reaching high levels measured some years ago. 38% of the world’s population now think that 2022 will be better than 2021, 27% expect a worse year and 27% believe 2022 will be the same as 2021.  The picture looks similar to the end of 2020.  2008 still remains the year with largest pessimism around the world in the new century.

People in Indonesia seem to be most hopeful (76% there expecting a better year), along with people in Albania (70%), Nigeria (68%), Azerbaijan (62%) and Vietnam (59%). Hope is low in Afghanistan (56% expecting a worse year), Turkey (56%), Bulgaria (48%), Poland (47%), Czech Republic (45%) and Pakistan (41%).

The citizens of the Republic of Korea (with 54% expecting the upcoming year to be the same), Italy (48%), Serbia (42%), etc. rather expect 2022 to be the same as 2021.

According to our Gallup International Association HOPE INDEX (answers “better” minus answers “worse”) the top 5 optimists are: Indonesia (+72), Albania (+65), Azerbaijan (+53), Nigeria (+51), Mexico and Vietnam (both with net score of +47).

Top 5 pessimists are Turkey (-34), Bulgaria (-34), Afghanistan (-32), Poland (-30) and Czech Republic (-25).

In terms of regions and heavy weight countries optimism/pessimism ratio seems to show a relatively stable pattern over recent years. Europe, Russia and the Middle East tend to be more pessimistic, while countries in Asia, for instance, seem to be more optimistic.

Hope in the USA, in Germany, in the U.K., Australia and India is decreasing sharply compared to last year’s survey while Japan, Mexico and Korea is significantly growing. Turkey is a unique case with a record increase of pessimism (due in part to the severe inflation factor).

Expectations about the economy show anxiety. However, there is no further growth in worries – in comparison to last year.  Today 26% of the people now expect economic prosperity for their country in the year to come, 41% are prepared for economic difficulties and 26% think that 2022 will be the same as 2021 in terms of economy.

In Nigeria (61% optimists), Indonesia (58%), Vietnam (55%) and Azerbaijan (52%), Albania, India (both with 49%) economic optimism is visibly prevailing against pessimism.  Expectations for economic difficulty are most predominant in Turkey (72% there expecting difficulties), Bosnia and Herzegovina (72%), Bulgaria (64%), Poland (64%), Romania (61%), Afghanistan (60%) and Germany (59%).

Europe seems more pessimistic as a hole and noticeably Eastern Europe, a pattern we have seen emerging over the years in GIA surveys. Developing regions, on the other hand, are often more cheerful and hopeful. National optimism is not usually just a matter of wellbeing but also matter of age of the population and perceptions of growth possibilities ahead.

Despite the pandemic and economic difficulties personal happiness prevails – as is always the case. There used to be some better times about five years ago, but still in terms of personal happiness people across the globe now remain rather satisfied. 57% of world’s population now consider themselves “rather happy or very happy”, over a tenth say that they are more or less unhappy, while near a third say that they are “neither happy, nor unhappy”.


People in Colombia (83% declaring to be happy), Kazakhstan (81%), Albania (75%), Malaysia (78%), Nigeria (78%) are most happy according to their self-evaluation. Most unhappy are people in Afghanistan (36% saying they are unhappy or very unhappy), Ghana (35%) , Iraq (33%), Ukraine (31%), Turkey (23%), Pakistan (23%) and Russia (23%).

According to GIA’s HAPPINESS INDEX the top 5 happy countries are: Colombia (happy and very happy minus unhappy and very unhappy equals +79), Kazakhstan (+76), Albania (+74), Malaysia (+73), Azerbaijan (+70).

Top 5 unhappy are Ghana (+2 only), Afghanistan (+9), Hong Kong (+11), Iraq (17) and Russia (+18).

As often, Latin America, Africa and East Asia are among the happiest places in the world. Europe, the Middle East and Russia (again, as expected) are on the gloomier side.  USA scores an average for the World result.

Kancho Stoychev,  president of GIA:


“The unprecedented state financial support on personal and business levels during the pandemic so far played a positive role and, in a way, limited the spread of mass pessimism around the World.   But it didn’t stop it. When the crisis started in March 2020 a majority of global citizens were convinced that it will be over by the end of the fall. Year 2021 was marked by the expectation that vaccines are going to solve the problem. Facing 2022 the perception is that we are rather in a chronic situation without a clear end. The growth of inflation was anticipated after the massive printing of money but although it started to pass the 5% threshold barrier in recent weeks, in many countries the real worries are not prevented.  And the big tension is not that inflation will become a two digits phenomenon – most probably it will be kept in the single digits scope – but that it will be significantly longer than the usual few months. Together with disrupted global supply chains and an explosion in energy prices, the world’s population now faces unprecedented challenges which will spread political tension (not only in the less developed countries).”



The Gallup International End of Year Survey (EoY) is an annual tradition initiated by and designed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. The survey is conducted every year since then. This year it was carried out in 44 countries around the world. 

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

A total of 41 560 persons were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed during October-December 2021 either face to face, via telephone or online.

The margin of error for the survey is between +3-5% at 95% confidence level.

About Gallup International

Gallup International Association (GIA) is the leading global independent association in market research and polling. 

For over 70 years Gallup International members have demonstrated their expert ability to conduct multi-country surveys on a comparable basis and deliver the highest quality. Our more than 100 members and partners 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.


For more information:

Kancho Stoychev (in Sofia), +359 88 8611025

Johnny Heald (in London), +44 7973 600308

David Jodice (in Washington), +1 703 424 5757

Andrey Milekhin (in Moscow), +7 499 136 8068

Dr Munqith Dagher (in Baghdad) +962 7 9967 2229

Steven Kang (in Seoul), +82-2-3702-2550

Antonio Asencio Guillen (in Madrid) +34 608191334

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