World Happiness Report 2019
CHAPTER 2 Changing World Happiness
In the first World Happiness Report we surveyed a wide range of available data. The Gallup World Poll surveys covering 2005-2011 gave the widest international coverage. Now, seven years later, we have twice as many years of data from the Gallup World Poll, giving us a sufficient time span to consider how our principal measures of happiness, and their main supporting factors, have evolved from 2005 through 2018.
The chapter therefore starts with a presentation of the evolution of annual data at the global and regional levels for three key happiness measures – life evaluations, positive affect, and negative affect over the whole course of the Gallup World Poll from 2005 through 2018. For all our plots of annual data, we combine the surveys in 2005 and 2006, because of the small number of countries in the first year.
The title of this chapter is intentionally ambiguous, designed to document not just the year-to-year changes in happiness, but also to consider how happiness has been affected by changes in the quality of government. After our review of how world happiness has been changing since the start of the Gallup World Poll, we turn to present our rankings and analysis of the 2016-2018 average data for our three measures of subjective well-being plus the six main variables we use to explain their international differences. See Technical Box 1 for the precise definitions of all nine variables.
For our country-by-country analysis of changes, we report changes from 2005-2008 to 2016-2018, grouping years together to provide samples of sufficient size. We shall also provide estimates of the extent to which each of the six key explanatory variables contributed to the actual changes in life evaluations from 2005-2008 to 2016-2018.
We then complete the chapter with our latest evidence on the links between changes in the quality of government, by a variety of measures, and changes in national average life evaluations over the 2005-2018 span of years covered by the Gallup World Poll.
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