Gallup systematically tracks and reports on well-being, leadership approval ratings, confidence in national institutions, employment rates and other important issues affecting people’s daily lives. The following list is the compilation of the top 10 most fascinating world discoveries of the year, courtesy of Gallup.
Only 1.3 billion worldwide employed full time for employer. Gallup’s global Payroll to Population rate has not grown since dropping in 2012. About one in four adults worldwide — or roughly 1.3 billion people — worked full-time for an employer in 2013.
Bonus finding: Nearly one in three workers worldwide are self-employed.
Little improvement in global jobs outlook. The jobs outlook was about as dismal globally in 2013 as it was in 2012, with more than half of adults (55%) saying it was a bad time to find a job in their communities. One in three (34%) said it was a good time to find a job.
Bonus finding: Gender gap in jobs outlook widest in the Americas.
Country well-being varies worldwide. Only one in six adults worldwide are considered thriving — or strong and consistent — in at least three of the five elements of well-being, as measured by the inaugural Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index in 2013.
Bonus finding: Jobs climate related to well-being worldwide.
Global image of U.S. leadership rebounds. After hitting a low point at the end of President Barack Obama’s first term, U.S. leadership ratings worldwide rallied in 2013 as he began his second. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 130 countries stood at 46% in 2013, up from 41% in 2012.
Bonus finding: U.S. tops other global leaders in approval.
Media freedom declines in 2013. Media freedom lost ground in many countries in 2013, with double-digit declines in perceived freedom in 10 countries. A median of 63% of adults across 132 countries say the media in their country have a lot of freedom — on the low side of the percentages that Gallup has recorded since it started tracking these perceptions in 2010.
Suffering in Afghanistan hits record high — for any country. Already the worst in the world in 2013, Afghans’ ratings of their lives declined even further in 2014. More than six in 10 Afghans evaluate their lives poorly enough to be considered “suffering” — the highest figure ever recorded for any country since Gallup started tracking life evaluations in 2005.
Faith in Iraqi government falls sharply in Sunni regions ahead of ISIS. A Gallup study conducted just before ISIS militants took control of Mosul on June 6-9 found 30% of residents in the predominantly Sunni heartland of Iraq had confidence in the national government, down from 52% in 2013 — even as confidence held steady in all other regions.
Quality healthcare at a premium in Ebola-affected countries. Before the Ebola outbreak, people in the West African countries most affected by the epidemic were already among the most dissatisfied in the world with the availability of quality healthcare in their areas. Dissatisfaction reached 78% in Guinea, while residents of Sierra Leone (74%) and Liberia (73%) were also among the world’s 10 most dissatisfied out of the 137 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2013.
Russian approval of Putin soars to highest level in years. President Vladimir Putin’s popularity in Russia soared to its highest level in years, likely propelled by a groundswell of national pride with the annexation of Crimea in March on the heels of the Sochi Olympic Games in February. The 83% of Russians saying they approve of Putin’s leadership in late April/early June ties his previous high rating in 2008 when he left office the first time.
Bonus finding: Russians rely on state media for news of Ukraine, Crimea.
Ukrainians’ ratings of their lives, country hit new low. Ukrainians’ ratings of their lives and their country sank to all-time lows as their new government battled pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern regions in 2014.
Bonus finding: Ukrainians’ approval of Russia’s leadership dives nearly 90% after Crimea