Despite the great affection for complaining and occasional self-loathing, Israel
still ranks quite high on surveys measuring happiness and optimism. A Gallup survey released Monday, which purports to measure global suffering, ranks Israel in a low and encouraging spot: Only 4% of Israelis who responded to the organization's questions were defined as people whose lives causes them misery.
Bulgaria takes the dubious first place for the third year in a row, with 39% of the respondents defined as "suffering". Western citizens curious to know the effects of economic sanctions on Iran
will be interested to know that it is ranked fifth, with 31% of the country's respondents rating their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering.
Not far from there are the citizens of Syria
where 29% of the people are defined as suffering. But they are in good company: According to the survey, at least a quarter of the world's population is defined as suffering.
On the opposite and optimistic side of the table are, among other countries, Iceland, Qatar, Sweden, Norway and the UAE, where only 1% of citizens were defined as suffering. Together with Israel (4% of population suffering) are the US, France, Britain, Belgium, South Africa, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, among other countries.
The survey was conducted in 2012 among 143 countries. Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, per country. Gallup classifies respondents 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.
Gallup considers people to be suffering if they rate their current lives a 4 or lower and their lives in five years a 4 or lower. The respondents do not label themselves as suffering.
According to the Gallup surveys, the level of suffering in the world has not dramatically changed in recent years. Suffering was 2% or less in 17 countries and areas – most of them wealthier and more developed countries. Some developing countries also made this list: Thailand, Venezuela, Nigeria, the Somaliland region, and Libya.
Across countries, according to Gallup, measures of well-being are highly related to income, education levels, and reported disease conditions. Individuals who are thriving have fewer disease conditions, fewer sick days, and higher incomes.
As in other surveys measuring happiness, here too Israelis indicated a high level of satisfaction with their lives. The UN World Happiness Report, which was released in September, ranked Israel in the 11th place, before New Zealand, UAE, US, Ireland and Luxembourg.
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