The results of the Gallup Organization’s most recent poll on wellbeing placed Venezuela in sixth place out of 124 countries. The poll, which was published on Thursday, is the result of a series of telephone and face-to-face surveys conducted between February and December 2010.
Using the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, whereby respondents are asked to rate their current and future lives based on a scale of 1-10—with 10 being the best life possible—the poll found that 64% of Venezuelans considered themselves to be ‘thriving’, i.e., those who rated their current lives at 7 or above and those who rated their future lives at 8 or above.
In relation to the poll’s findings, president Chávez commented, “This means we are on the right path, even with all the errors that we have to put right. Nonetheless, this is the right path, the path of socialism, the redistribution of income.”
Beaten only by Denmark (79%), Canada (69%), Sweden (69%) and Australia (66%) and scoring the same levels of “thriving” as Finland (64%), Venezuela occupied the highest position of those countries considered to be in the “developing world” and came first out of all the Latin American nations. In keeping with Gallup’s results from 2009, the Americas had the highest rate of “thriving”, with a median of 39%. The study highlighted that out of the populations in 124 countries, only 19 (all in Europe and America) classified themselves as being prosperous, with the list of countries where ‘the majority saw themselves as thriving’ including predominantly richer and more developed countries. Despite this, some countries with larger economies, such as the United States (59%) and the UK (54%), conversely ranked lower in the poll and came in at 12th and 17th respectively. Furthermore, levels fell even further in countries such as Italy (37%), India (17%) and China (12%), with figures significantly below the 50% margin, suggesting that higher levels of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and national income do not necessarily correlate to how citizens view their overall levels of wellbeing.
A lengthier study, conducted from 2005-2009, showed that Venezuela’s ‘thriving’ level was 50% – demonstrating a rise of 14% between the two polls and an improvement in how citizen’s viewed their wellbeing. The previous study also contained a table of ‘daily wellbeing averages’, which measured satisfaction on a daily basis through questions such as; “Have you learnt anything new/laughed at all today?’ or ‘Do you feel stressed/well rested/as though you are treated with respect?’. Venezuela scored particularly highly on daily wellbeing averages, attaining an overall rating of 8/10.
In the same way that social researchers have argued to include indicators such as gender equality and access to health and education services within the definition of what constitutes ‘development’, Gallup suggests that behavioural economic data is just as important as other economic indicators such as national income. Julie Ray, the author of the Gallup report, wrote, “Gallup's global wellbeing data underscore the diversity of development challenges worldwide. As the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt showed earlier this year, leaders should not rely on GDP alone as an indicator of how well their countries and their citizens are doing.”