Leading Scientists Discuss the State of Global Well-Being

Gallup’s multinational research reveals subjective perspectives

Leading scientists from around the world, including Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, Alan Krueger, Angus Deaton, Ed Diener, and John Helliwell gathered recently at Gallup’s Washington, D.C. headquarters to discuss groundbreaking findings on the state of global well-being. Gallup’s measures of global well-being reach beyond traditional indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), poverty rates, health-care expenditures, literacy levels, and life expectancy rates to incorporate subjective self-reported assessments from people in more than 130 countries on virtually all aspects of life.

Gallup researchers find clear correlations between overall well-being and subjective assessments of law and order, food and shelter, work, economics, and health, as well as socioeconomic indicators that go beyond GDP — including measures of military spending, brain drain, and governance. Together, these findings suggest that measures of subjective well-being might help to predict the future of economies and societies as a whole. This behavioural approach to economic forecasting appears to be gaining traction. In September 2007, former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in an interview, “If I could figure out a way to determine whether or not people are more fearful or changing to more euphoric … I don’t need any of this other stuff. I could forecast the economy better than any way I know.”

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