According to Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index, Panama leads the world in well-being, while Estonia has some catch-up to do.
The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index is a global barometer that measures individuals' perceptions of their well-being and is the largest recent study of its kind. Data collection spanned 145 countries and areas and more than 146,000 interviews in 2014.
The Global Well-Being Index is organized into five elements:
- Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
- Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
In analyzing the results of the index, Gallup and Healthways classify responses as "thriving" (well-being that is strong and consistent), "struggling" (well-being that is moderate or inconsistent), or "suffering" (well-being that is low and inconsistent).
At the regional level, the Americas have the highest percentages of residents thriving in three or more elements and lead other regions in purpose, social, community and physical well-being. Latin Americans in particular have higher levels of well-being than any other regional group. Residents of many Latin American countries are among the most likely in the world to report daily positive experiences such as smiling and laughing, feeling enjoyment, and feeling treated with respect each day.
For the second consecutive year, Panama leads the world in well-being, with 53 percent of residents considered thriving in three or more elements. Costa Rica and Puerto Rico round out the top three as the only other countries or areas with at least 45 percent or more of their populations thriving. Afghans, in turn, had the lowest well-being globally, with zero percent of residents considered thriving.
Panamanians have the highest levels of purpose- and physical well-being. They also tie with other countries for the top spot in social and community well-being. Factors contributing to this peak level of global well-being may include Panama's Latin American cultural predisposition that is associated with higher levels of positivity than other regions. Its relative political stability, a strong and growing economy in 2014, and investments in national development may also be contributing factors.
European countries are most likely to be thriving in financial well-being, with nine of the top 10 located in this region. Two in three or more residents in Norway (68.9 percent), Sweden (67.9) and Switzerland (66.1) are thriving in this element. Singapore (52.4) is the only non-European country to have a majority of its population satisfied with their financial situation.
Gallup and Healthways' research shows that people worldwide with higher well-being are healthier, more productive and more resilient in the face of challenges such as unemployment.
World's top 10 well-being ranking
1. Panama — 53 percent of people thriving
2. Costa Rica — 47.6
3. Puerto Rico — 45.8
4. Switzerland — 39.4
5. Belize — 38.9
6. Chile — 38.7
7. Denmark — 37
8. Guatemala — 36.3
9. (tie) Austria — 35.6
9. (tie) Mexico — 35.6
23. United States
Editor: S. Tambur