Paraguay is the most positive country in the world

Well being and life satisfaction
Demographic Economics - Migration

People cool down in the Paraguay River during hot weather conditions in Asuncion December 26, 2010. Temperatures in Paraguay reached a high of 38 degrees Celsius on Sunday.       REUTERS/Jorge Adorno  (PARAGUAY - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY) - GM1E6CR0KNR01

Image: REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

Paraguay also topped the list in 2015 and 2016.

This article was previously published in the World Economic Forum Blog, on October 8, 2018.

Think about how you felt yesterday. Were you well-rested? Were you treated with respect? Did you smile or laugh? Did you learn or do something interesting?

Measuring feelings is no easy task, especially when you’re attempting to gauge the emotional state of nations.

Asking questions like these, the Gallup Global Emotions Poll conducted over 154,000 phone and face-to-face interviews with citizens of 145 countries in 2017 to capture a snapshot of how the world is feeling.

Overall 2017 was the most miserable year for more than a decade, with levels of negative emotions higher than they had been since Gallup started the poll.

But despite the uptick in negativity, 70% reported experiencing positive emotions, including feeling well-rested, treated with respect, and smiling or laughing a lot the day before their interview.

And Paraguayans had more positive experiences than anyone else.

On the bright side

Paraguay – which also topped the list in 2015 and 2016 – reflects a broader trend of people in Latin American countries reporting a lot of positive emotions.

Latin American nations dominated the league table, taking seven of the top 10 places, including the first four. However, as Gallup points out, this may be partly due to a cultural tendency in Latin America to look on the bright side of life.

Paraguay had the highest scores for positive experiences in 2017.

Image: Gallup Global Emotions 2018

At the other end of the scale, the countries that recorded the lowest rates of positive experiences were all affected by civil war or external conflict. 

Afghanistan occupied the bottom slot with a score of 48, just below Yemen’s 49. These countries had the lowest positivity scores recorded by the annual poll in more than a decade.

In a negative state

Conflict significantly influenced the poll’s Negative Experiences Index, too. Gallup asked respondents if they had experienced physical pain, worry, sadness, stress or anger the day before the survey.

The Central African Republic topped the most negative country list in 2017.

Image: Gallup Global Emotions 2018

The country with the most “yes” responses was the Central African Republic, where renewed fighting between militia groups has displaced tens of thousands of people.

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents in the Central African Republic said they had experienced physical pain the day before their interview. In 10 other countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – a majority of citizens reported being in physical pain the day before.

Some of the most negative nations have remained near the top of the index for years. Iraq, now second, was in first position for the last four years, and South Sudan, Chad, Sierra Leone and Liberia have all appeared in the top 10 previously.

Emotions running high

To find out which nations are the most and least emotional, Gallup averaged the “yes” responses to the questions from the positive and negative experience indexes.

Again, the Central African Republic came top, followed this time by Peru and Sierra Leone. On average nearly 60% of the population of each of these three countries reported positive or negative emotions.

The Central African Republic is top of the list of most emotional nations.

Image: Gallup Global Emotions 2018

This compares to Yemen, Belarus and Azerbaijan – declared the least emotional nations – where on average 40% of people said they had experienced positive or negative emotions the day before the poll.

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