At the End of 2022: Some Happiness Only Prevails in Private Life, not in Public Sphere Anymore

At the eve of 2023 public expectations for the future across the Globe are unusually diverse and the World looks much less unified than in previous years. Pessimism is prevailing, the economic prosperity seems to vanish and fears of a use of nuclear weapons are at unprecedented levels. Although personal happiness traditionally prevails, the World as a hole declares less individual happiness. These are some of the findings of End of Year Gallup International Association survey – the polling tradition of the recent decades. 

2023 comes with rather pessimistic expectations. Less than a third (31%) of respondents believe that 2023 will be better than 2022. 34% share the opposite opinion and 27% believe 2023 will be the same. The results show more pessimism when compared to the last years and the picture now is similar to the attitudes at the end of 2008, which was the year with the largest pessimism around the world in the new century.

Most optimistic about future are people in Nigeria, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Philippines and India. At the end of this year top 5 pessimistic countries are fully European – Poland, Czech Republic, Serbia, France and Italy.

Traditionally Russia is rather on the pessimistic side. This year 22% of the respondents there said that they are optimistic about the future, 36% however are pessimistic about 2023 being better than 2022 and 20% are neutral about their expectations. Relatively significant share of the Russians finds it difficult to shape an opinion about the prospects for 2023 – 20%. For the last few years these attitudes remain stable. It should be noted however that there seems to be growth in the share of answers “do not know”.

In the USA on the other hand there has been dramatical shift towards pessimism in the last few years. The optimists today about a better new year are still more than the pessimists – 37% expect 2023 to be better than 2022 and 27% are prepared for a worse year. Neutrals are a nearly third of the respondents and 6% cannot form an opinion. Last year optimists in the USA were 40% and pessimists – 19%. In 2020 59% of the Americans were expecting a better year and 16% were pessimists.

Expectations about the economy also show ongoing growth of anxiety. Now 21% of the people expect economic prosperity for their country in the year to come, near a half (48%) are prepared for economic difficulties and a fourth think that 2023 will be the same as 2022. The rest cannot assess.

This pattern continues the ongoing negative trend about hopes for economic prosperity, which began a few years ago – in 2016 a breaking point was observed and 2020 with Covid-19 pandemic seemed to be the year with worst expectations after the crisis in 2008. But now attitudes seem much like or even worse than those at the end of 2020. Still, world is not so negative in economic expectations than it was in 2008 with its crisis.

Again, nations of global South and East are among top 5 optimists for economic prosperity: Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan. Europe again stands out as the most pessimistic region in terms of economy: Poland, Serbia, Germany, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Romania.

Both USA and Russia share equal shares of respondents who expect economic difficulties (47%). In the USA however the share of those who are expecting prosperity is a bit larger – 21% of the respondents. Russians think about economy with more hesitance – 13% there expect prosperity for 2023. The attitudes towards economy remain negative for the last few years. Last year Russians were even more pessimistic in this regard, while in the USA there is a slight shift towards more negativity this year.

Hopes for the world and its economy might be in decline, but personal happiness still prevails. However, it seems to be in continuous decline over recent years. The majority (54%) of the people in different nations across the globe consider themselves rather happy or even very happy. Over a tenth consider themselves very unhappy or unhappy and a third are neither happy nor unhappy.

Again, countries in East and South are among the top 5 happy nations: Philippines, Mexico, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Japan, and Kazakhstan. Europe is on the gloomier side; however, the unhappier countries are spread across the Globe: Armenia, Kenya, Hong Kong, Argentina, Turkey and Moldova. This comes again as a confirmation that perceptions of happiness have a different origin – dependent on individual circumstances and national context.

Despite being anxious about the future and the economy, people in USA declare that they are rather happy – 54%. Unhappy their claim to be 16%. In Russia 44% of the respondents regard themselves as a happy persons and 14% say that they are unhappy about their live. Both countries have a share of about a third of people who are neither happy, nor unhappy.

The two countries however differ in their perceptions for the last few years: in the USA the share of those, who feel happy about their lives, is progressively shrinking over the recent few years, while in Russia the attitudes remain rather stable. Russians show even a slightly more cheerful answers this year.

There is however a new and heavy shadow, which came with the war of 2022. At the end of 2022 38% of people around the globe see a high risk of use of nuclear weapon nowadays. Another 38% think that there is a moderate risk and just 14% see no risk of nuclear weapon being used any time soon.

People in Iraq, Nigeria, Philippines, Kenya are overall the most concerned of the possibility of someone using a nuclear bomb. Answers in societies closer to the war in Ukraine are a bit different. Most calm are people in Pakistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan and India.

Fear of nuclear weapon use is rather moderate in the United States – 27% there say that the risk is high and 55% assess it as moderate. 11% see no risk of nuclear weapons being used nowadays. In Russia the attitudes are similar, although relatively calmer – a fourth of the respondents there fear that the risk of using nuclear weapon is high, 38% see a moderate risk and 12% see no risk.

Kancho Stoychev, president of GIA:

“The so-called collective West is no longer a nest of optimism and prosperity growth as usually in the past according to its inhabitants. More and more people understand that the war is not near Europe – the war is in Europe. And the European Community is a project for peace first of all. Will it survive in the next 2023 year is under a serious question mark.”

For more information:

Kancho Stoychev (in Sofia), +359 88 8611025

Johnny Heald (in London), +44 7973 600308

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

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

Antonio Asencio Guillen (in Madrid) +34 608191334

For further details see website: www.gallup-international.com

Methodology:

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 34 countries around the world. 

Sample Size and Mode of Fieldwork:

A total of 35 664 persons were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed during October-December 2022 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 75 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 daily 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.

Disclaimer:

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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/.