WIN/Gallup International’s annual global End of Year survey shows a brighter outlook for 2014

ORB, as part of the WIN/Gallup International network, undertook fieldwork across 65 countries around the world, asking representative samples in each country how they felt about the upcoming year, which countries they felt were the greatest threat to world peace and how they would feel about women taking a greater role in politics.

WIN/Gallup International, the leading global association in market research and polling, has today published the results of its annual End of Year Survey which explores the outlook, expectations, hopes and fears of people from 65 countries around the world.

Headlines

  • Despite a year of economic difficulty, almost 50% of people surveyed are more positive about 2014 than they were for 2013;
  • US, Canada and Australia are the countries where most people would like to live if they could;
  • US is considered to be the greatest threat to peace in the world, followed by Pakistan and China;
  • Over a third of those surveyed believe the world would be a better place if there were more female politicians;
  • Now in its 37th year WIN/Gallup International End of Year Survey finds that since 1989 people in general have a more positive outlook on economic prosperity for the coming year.

A new wave of optimism?

Globally, a majority of the 66,806 polled, representing the views of 65 countries with a total population of 84,857,489, had a positive outlook for 2014, with 48% believing that next year would be better than 2013, compared to only 20% who thought it would be worse. A vast majority of those across the globe, with the number surveyed increasing by over 10,000 compared with 2012 (55,817), answered that they are happy in their lives, with 60% indicating they are content compared to just 12% who are unhappy and 26% who felt they are neither happy nor unhappy.  Africa is the unhappiest region in the world with 26% reporting unhappiness, despite being relatively hopeful in their global (48%) and economic (36%) outlook.

Expectations of economic prosperity recorded split results, with a narrow margin of 32% of the world’s population believing that 2014 will be a prosperous year, whilst 33% think it will remain unchanged, and 30% believe 2014 will be a year of economic difficulty. Looking at the results on a global scale, the Asian and MENA regions are the most optimistic, with 62% of those in Fiji hoping for a more prosperous 2014 and 55% in Saudi Arabia hoping for the same. Western and Eastern Europe are the two most pessimistic regions with 86% and 78% respectively thinking the economy in 2014 will either get worse or stay the same – a result that could be attributable to the tough economic conditions suffered this year.

Since the WIN/Gallup International End of Year Survey began in 1977, people’s outlook on economic prosperity for the coming year can be divided into two camps.  Between 1977 and 1988, people were generally pessimistic about the coming year with the net response (percentage of those who thought the following year would be better minus those who thought it would be worse) being negative. However, in the subsequent period when the question was asked the outlook has been more positive, peaking in 2005 at +21%, and in recent years being +7% in 2012 and +2% in 2013.

Home is where the heart is

The results of this year’s survey show that the majority of people (38%) are in fact happy to live where they currently reside.  This figure is matched by those in the Western Europe region where 38% would choose to live where they currently live, with 36% of the UK population opting to stay in the country and a substantial 66% of Australia respondents answering that they would not consider relocating.  Overall, those in the MENA (47%) and Americas (46%) regions are most likely to stay where they currently live.

For those who would like to move, the survey highlights that the USA (9% of respondents) is the most desirable destination, with Canada and Australia jointly being second choice (7%) and Switzerland third (6%). Only 4% of the world’s population would like to live in the UK, a figure common to other European countries including Spain, France and Italy.

US- really the biggest threat?

The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country which represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%). Respondents in Russia (54%), China (49%) and Bosnia (49%) were the most fearful of the US as a threat.

These results show that although the US is widely regarded as posing the greatest threat to peace, it is, paradoxically, still the most desired country to live in.  This could show that for many of the people surveyed across the globe it appears that the notion of the ‘American Dream’ is still alive.

A woman’s world?

The global poll also addressed the topic of politics, with one specific question asking respondents whether the world would be a better place if politicians were predominantly women.  On a global scale, 34% think the world would indeed be a better place while 41% think there would be no difference, and only 17% believe it would be worse.  Western Europe, with 52%, was the only region to receive a majority of responses who felt that more women politicians would make no difference. However, the split is much closer in the US with 41% thinking the world would be a better place with more women in politics and 42% believing there would be no change.

The MENA region responded to the idea of more women politicians with more negativity.  34% of participants in these countries thought that the world would be a worse place, in contrast to 32% who felt more women in politics would have a positive impact.  However, 41% of those in the African region thought an increase would create a better world, 30% saying it would be worse, and 26% believing it would stay the same.

Jean-Marc Leger, President of WIN/Gallup International Association, said: “Despite an unstable economic situation, our happiness index is extremely high all over the word except in Europe. Moreover people think that 2014 will be better than 2013. Optimism is back in the world.”

Non-confidential intelligence reports: