Danes and Swedes top 'well-being' surveys; Americans, just mediocre
April 21st, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Danes and Swedes top 'well-being' surveys; Americans, just mediocre

Danes, Swedes and Canadians believe they're "thriving" - while Americans are feeling somewhat mediocre.  Haitians and citizens in the Middle East said they were "struggling."

Gallup conducted surveys last year of how people in different countries rated their lives and their expectations for the next five years.  A sample of 1,000 adults from each country  identified whether they felt they were "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" on a 0 to 10 scale.  Learn more about this scale

The questions related to 10 daily experiences and included feeling well-rested, treated with respect, smiling/laughter, learning/interest, enjoyment, physical pain, worry, sadness, stress, and anger.

In the Middle East, only a small minority reported themselves as "thriving" - which Gallup described as "some evidence of the underlying discontent that bubbled over in late 2010 and early 2011."  Only 14% of Libyans reported themselves to be "thriving" and only 12% reported in Egypt. Many of the countries that reported they were struggling were located in sub-Saharan Africa, in which the median percentage for thriving was 8%. Meanwhile Haitians, who are still struggling in the aftermath of an earthquake, reported a mere 2%.

Three of the top five countries reported to be “thriving” were Scandinavian. Most of the countries self-reporting better conditions were in Europe and the Americas.  United States rated out of the top 10 list, with about 59% reported to be thriving, 38%  struggling and 3% suffering.

The survey results were collected through in-person and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in 124 countries.  The margin of sampling error is 1.7  to ±5.7 percentage points.

For the complete list, visit Gallup.

Here are the top 10 and bottom 10:

Countries where the most citizens reported to be “thriving”

1.     Denmark (72%)
2.     Sweden (69%)
3.     Canada (69%)
4.     Australia (65%)
5.     Finland (64%)
6.     Venezuela (64%)
7.     Israel (63%)
8.     New Zealand (63%)
9.     Netherlands (62%)
10.  Ireland (62%)

12.  U.S.A.  (59%)

Bottom 10

Countries where the fewest citizens reported to be “thriving”

(Percentage of people reported to be "thriving")

  1. Chad (1%)
  2. Central African Republic (2%)
  3. Haiti (2%)
  4. Burkina Faso (2%)
  5. Cambodia (3%)
  6. Niger (3%)
  7. Tajikistan (3%)
  8. Tanzania (4%)
  9. Mali (4%)
  10. Comoros (4%)

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soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Better in Europe

    Anyone see a correlation with a population that feels good about itself and a social system and cultural norms that put the colllective good of the population ahead of for profit business interests? We in the US have been brainwashed to believe that private enterprise solves everything. Mandatory 6 week vacations – NOW!. National Health Care – NOW!. Taxes on the wealthy – NOW!!!!!! VAT TAX – NOW!!! (tax consumption immediately). The fact is, capitalism does work, but only when it is REGULATED IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST at the same time. Any American who travels to, or is fortunate enough to have lived in Europe, KNOWS THE TRUTH!

    April 21, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Well, Israel is #7 in the list, after Venezuela and before New Zealand... but Israel is, probably, the only country on the planet that did not have even a single day of peace during its entire 63-year history. Are you sure that you want WAR - NOW?

      April 21, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Izzisgirl

      Thinker!!!! We gotta get everyone over here . . . there's no other articles for us to chat on!!!! LOL

      April 21, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • paul

      Can you say AUSTERITY NOW?
      Do you remember the recent news from Europe and AUSTERITY? REMEMBER HISTORY NOW!

      April 22, 2011 at 08:21 | Report abuse |
    • g

      Australia has some of the best vacation time, and the service leave.

      April 22, 2011 at 08:27 | Report abuse |
    • Boka

      I want marijuana Legalized – NOW!

      April 22, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • suzweb

      Checked the entire list and here's a sample of other EU rankings:
      U.K. – 17
      Germany – 24
      France – 28
      Italy – 32
      Spain – 37
      Greece – 62
      Romania – 76
      Portugal – 81
      Hungary – 85
      Bulgaria – 106

      So the U.S. at 12 is not all that bad.

      April 22, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • mf

      i'm confused. exactly who are you an cnn counting as europe? i think the leaders in this poll are scandinavian countries. the europeans with VAT tax, etc. are falling woefully behind the US.
      U.K. – 17
      Germany – 24
      France – 28
      Italy – 32
      Spain – 37
      Greece – 62
      Romania – 76
      Portugal – 81
      Hungary – 85
      Bulgaria – 106

      April 23, 2011 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
    • Lennonblackie

      Out of that top 10, which one of those countries has done more for mankind than the US? Which one of those countries liberates people from tyranny? Which one has done more for grief stricken nations like Haiti? Which one of those countries has a higher standard of living than the US? Which one of those countries has contributed more to science and innovation than the US? Which one of those countries will allow its citizens to practice the religion of their choice? Which one of those countries provides the opportunity for its citizens to climb through economic classes if they make good decisions and work hard to accomplish whatever dreams they have? If you find that country, move there, no one will stop you. However, you might find that you're already there.

      April 24, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Rafaela

      There was another drive by nnopieg out here in the western USA today from before to just after local noon Center cloud was around Colorado/Utah Texas and Iowa made it into Montana, along with a station in NM which I copied wrong in my haste and of course it was a grid that I needed DRAT!!! Just got in on the closing end of this one after lunch some west coast stations ran a few on the N-S coastal route, but nothing over this way.

      April 14, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  2. Conrad Shull

    Better off in Europe: We already have high taxes on the "wealthy" (the correct term is "high income earners"). The quibble is on how high they should be. The work environment in Europe is fine if you work for a business. Not quite as much if you want to run a business. Beyond that, this article is little but a statement of the blazingly obvious: people in wealthier counties are happier than people in very poor countries. Canadians are happier than Haitians? Gee, who'd a thunk?

    April 21, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Noocrat

      Last I checked they were the lowest in quite sometime. Taxes on the wealthy during the lives of "The Greatest Generation" were 69%, compare now to 35%. I read a stat recently, that even the 39% from Clinton era would take care of about 75% of our debt problems over time.

      April 21, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  3. phoenix

    europeans are natural men and women other countries struggle with God.

    April 21, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. delos

    Any American who travels to, or is fortunate enough to have lived in Europe, KNOWS THE TRUTH!

    April 21, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. delos

    Any American who travels to, or is fortunate enough to have lived in Europe, KNOWS THE TRUTH!

    I agreee with you whole hardely, But the average american think's we are so far ahead of the rest of the world but really don't have a clue.
    I alway's tell people If you just spend a liitel time in europe, you would get the urge to punch out every politian cite,state & federal. They are just so much more in tune with there population needs, and make a real effort to meet those needs unlike the carpet bagger's we elect most of which could care less about the general population they suppossily represent.

    April 21, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mf

      i'm an american who lived in europe. they do not have it better. look at the poll. uk, germany, france, spain all waaaaaaaaaaaay behind the US.

      April 23, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
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    April 21, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lucas

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      April 7, 2012 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
  7. billy

    The only person they can blame is Allah, guess he isn't so great, is he?

    April 21, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frank

      You do know that Sweden and Denmark have the highest percentage of atheists? Not believing in the Christian God or Allah = happiness by your explanation. It's a bit naive.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • Adeline

      The rising sea level among other worse things is engulfing atheistic nations. Atheists should really stop being haughty against God on this rapidly failing planet.

      April 24, 2011 at 08:12 | Report abuse |
    • Adeline

      Europe had been better-off because of its Christian tradition. Without it, now there is little hope in every aspect.

      April 24, 2011 at 08:13 | Report abuse |
  8. T

    anyone here trying to make things better in the US of A. It begins with you.

    April 22, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mf

    um. the headline is really misleading. in fact, the uk, france, germany, spain are all far below the US in this poll. so, the US is doing well compared to Europe. the scandinavian countries are doing the best overall and look who beat out the netherlands and new zealand? Israel! so much for middle east struggling. just the arab countires, not the only real democracy there.

    April 23, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Adeline

    Do Danes and Swedes have trustworthy children to support their future? Nations' grades are a temporary thing.

    April 24, 2011 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. joseelr

    Ah, Canada .... you did it again!

    May 5, 2011 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
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