- In 2021, unhappiness increased globally as the world as a whole got more depressing, anxious, and stressed out. But more people than anyplace else on earth were living in poverty in two nations: Afghanistan and Lebanon.
According to the Gallup Negative Experience Index, which is a composite indicator of people’s everyday experiences of grief, stress, worry, anger, and physical pain, Afghanistan and Lebanon had the two highest ratings in the world last year — 59 and 58. More people in a population are experiencing these emotions, as indicated by higher index scores.
Iraq, which was still listed as one of the most wretched nations, was noticeably displaced from the top spot on the Negative Experience Index that it had held for the two years prior by the high ratings for Afghanistan and Lebanon in 2021. Throughout its conflict with the Islamic State organization, Iraq recorded scores comparable to those of Afghanistan and Lebanon at the moment.
The majority of the nations with the highest Negative Experience Index scores in 2021 were dealing with some sort of emotional health-related economic or political upheaval.
Afghans’ emotional states echoed the instability and uncertainty when Gallup polled the country last year as the Taliban retook power and as the United States withdrew its forces. In Afghanistan, levels of anxiety, stress, and sadness reached all-time highs in 2021: 80% of Afghans reported feeling anxious, 74% reported feeling strained, and 61% reported feeling depressed. Notably, no other population in the history of Gallup’s trend has ever expressed this level of worry.
Political unpredictability and ineffectiveness lack the administration are now the norm in Lebanon, but the most recent economic crisis there has been more difficult for the populace than any other since the civil war. 63% of Lebanese people said they would prefer to leave the nation permanently if they could due to the severe decline in quality of life; this desire is especially stronger in those who are feeling depressed.
Negative feelings reached record heights as daily life in Lebanon got more difficult. In 2021, 74% of respondents claimed that they had been stressed “a lot of the day” the day before. In Lebanon, 56% of respondents reported having a lot of grief, and 49% reported having a lot of anger. Regarding rage, Lebanon led the globe in 2022.
Afghan and Lebanese perspectives on life exhibit unhappiness, too
Subjective wellbeing is comprised of two components: a person’s perspective on life and their behavior in it. The first section is a summary of their life (life appraisal), and the second is a description of how they live each day (their emotions). Both are significant because they each measure a distinct aspect of people’s lives, and when combined, they offer a more comprehensive picture of those lives.
The assessments of adult populations in Afghanistan and Lebanon for their life in 2021 showed an even more bleak image of their present circumstances.
Afghans and Lebanese adults ranked their lives the worst in 2021, with Afghans giving their lives a 2.4 on a scale from zero to 10 (where 10 is the best possible life and zero is the worst), and Lebanese adults giving their lives a 2.2. They also had the poorest emotional health in the globe.
It is not new for Afghans to be at the bottom of the rankings. Since 2017, Afghans have, on average, given their life a rating of less than a 3. However, Lebanon’s inclusion on the list of countries with the lowest life ratings is a more recent development.
Lebanese gave their lives an average rating of 5 out of 10 from 2006 to 2018. These scores began to decline in 2019, dropping to 4.0 in 2019, 2.6 in 2020, and 2.2 in 2021. One month after the Oct. 17 revolution, Gallup conducted a survey in Lebanon in 2019, and a few months after the explosion at the Beirut port, it did so in 2020.
More people died from COVID-19 in year two of the pandemic despite the introduction of vaccines, leaving people living in even greater uncertainty than in year one. However, the rise in unfavorable feelings is not entirely attributable to the pandemic. According to Gallup’s research, the globe has been going downhill for the past ten years.
The most recent book from Gallup, Blind Spot: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It, will be released the following week and looks into why the world is headed in the direction it is and what leaders can do to change it.