It’s Not So Bad in Israel, According to World Index on Suffering

Gallup poll rates Israel as 34th happiest nation; a lot happier than Syria and Afghanistan, but not as happy as Iceland, Qatar and Sweden.

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Even if you’re having a really bad day, be thankful that it’s taking place in Israel, and not in Bulgaria, which according to a new Gallup poll led the world in “suffering” for 2012. Fully 39 percent of Bulgarians responded to the poll by rating their lives as suffering - the third year in a row that Bulgaria had headed the list.

Israel came in at 109 among the 143 countries listed by the Gallup suffering poll. Looking at the results in a more positive light, Israel is the 34th happiest nation in the world, with only 4% of residents who claim to be suffering. Nations at the same suffering level included the United States, England, France, Singapore, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belgium and Paraguay.

If there is some form of consolation for the less fortunate, it is that they do not suffer alone – and so Bulgaria is joined at the top of the list by Armenia, with 37% of residents defining their day-to-day lives as suffering, which is slightly more than Cambodia (34%), Haiti (32%), Hungary (32%), Madagascar (31%), Macedonia (31%), Iran (31%), Syria (29%), Afghanistan (29%) and Lebanon (29%). And that’s only the top ten.

Among the 143 nations included in the poll, over a quarter of the residents in the top 20 claim to be suffering on a daily basis.

The rankings are based on telephone surveys as well as face-to-face interviews with over 1,000 individuals over age 15 from each of the 143 nations. The participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with their current situation, and how they see their future, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best situation possible. Based on their answers, the pollsters classified the respondents as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering.” Suffering was defined as an answer of 4 or below.

According to the data, one in every seven people falls into the category of suffering, with Southeast Asia leading as the region with the most suffering in 2012, with an average rating of 24%, followed by the Balkan states with 21%, trailed by the Middle East and South Africa.

Unsurprisingly, the poll found that happiness goes hand in hand with wealth and education. Low suffering ratings of 2% and under were found in 17 nations, mainly developed nations. In Iceland, Qatar, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria, the rate of suffering was not higher than 1%.

The researchers link the high satisfaction and low suffering ratings in these nations to tangible factors like salary, education, work environment and life expectancy.

Israelis at the beach in Tel Aviv.Credit: Dan Keinan