The state of a country’s well-being says a lot about its prosperity and progress.
That’s why Gallup and Healthways team up to produce the annual “State of Global Well-Being Index,” which this year analysed 135 world countries in five elements, including financial stability, social relationships, community safety, physical well-being, and sense of purpose (i.e. contributing to society).
The researchers culled results from over 133,000 surveys taken in 2013 and ranked the countries with the highest and lowest well-being in each element, as well as those who thrived in three or more categories.
Here are the countries with the highest and lowest well-being, with darker countries doing better:
Panama had by far the best well-being ranking in the world, with 61% of its population thriving in four of the five well-being elements. Gallup and Healthways researchers claimed that Panama’s cultural positivity, relative political stability, and growing economy contributed to its high ranking.
But the Central American country was not thriving in terms of financial well-being, and struggled with a high poverty rate. Researchers noted this was especially prevalent for women and that ample work was needed to help women achieve financial stability on par with men.
Costa Rica followed Panama in a distant second place, with 44% of its population thriving in three or more elements, followed by Denmark, Austria, and Brazil rounding out the top five.
The U.S. came in #12 in the overall ranking, with high marks in social well-being and purpose.
Gallup noted that the Americas have the highest overall well-being among the world’s regions: a full 33% of people surveyed were thriving in three or more of the five well-being areas.
The following chart gives a breakdown of the top-ranking countries in each of the individual elements of well-being:
Meanwhile, Syria and Afghanistan fell to the bottom of the ranking, with only about 1% of each of their populations thriving in at least three areas. Respondents in both of these countries were described as war-weary, with little certainty about their country’s future.
Haiti (3%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5%), and Chad (5%) also made the bottom five.
The following chart gives a breakdown of the lowest-ranking countries in each of the individual elements of well-being:
For more details on the results and countries, you can read the full Gallup and Healthways survey results here.
The above map was made using an underlying file from thematicmapping.org.
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