2017 Was the Most Miserable Year in a Decade, Says a Global Poll


Sep 18, 2018


Last year, worldwide, people experienced sadness, stress, worry, anger and physical pain more frequently than they have at any point since 2005. That makes 2017 the most miserable year in a decade according to Gallup’s annual Global Emotions Report, which gauges the emotional state of the world to determine the saddest and happiest countries. Last year was the most “negative” year, possibly because it was dominated by war, political divisiveness, and humanitarian crises around the world, the report concludes.

Gallup polled 154,000 adults in more than 145 countries, including India. The polling company found that, worldwide, nearly four in 10 people experienced stress, worry or sadness the previous day. Additionally, one in five people reported feeling anger, and one in three suffered physical pain, in the 24 hours leading up to the survey.

“This is the first time that we’ve seen a really significant uptick in negative emotions,” said Julie Ray, the chief writer and editor of the report and survey. “It’s as high as we’ve ever measured it.”

The Central African Republic (CAR) replaced Iraq as the most negative country in the world, with three-quarters of residents saying they experienced physical pain and worry the previous day.

India showed mixed results in the recent survey, falling in the mid-range for negativity reporting. But reports earlier this year say the country fell 15 places across three years in the United Nation’s World Happiness Report 2018 (which is primarily based on Gallup data). Weaker social support networks, a less generous society, fewer reasons to experience positive emotions were some reasons for why Indians felt unhappy according to the survey.

Gallup’s conclusions aren’t, perhaps, rocket science, but they do validate what many of us have been feeling and sharing with each other. The world has seemed like a different place in the past year or so — more angry, more reactionary, less safe. But if this data speaks to anything, it’s the resilience of the human spirit — Gallup’s Positive Experience Index, the complement to its negative experience gauge, also found that seven in 10 adults globally had felt “a lot of enjoyment, smiled or laughed a lot, felt well-rested and felt treated with respect” in the 24 hours before the poll, which means positive and negative emotions are overlapping. Things aren’t all bad, even if they’re not all good.


Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.


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