"Suffering" in Iran Nearly Doubles to 26%

by Jon Clifton

Upward of 15% are unemployed; more than 35% are underemployed

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Suffering" in Iran has nearly doubled, up from 14% in 2008 to 26% in 2011.

Percentage suffering in Iran

Gallup classifies respondents worldwide as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale.

The percentage of people suffering in Iran is in the higher range of what Gallup found worldwide in 2010, and on par with levels seen last year in Haiti (27%), Central African Republic (26%), and Cambodia (23%) and this year in Greece (25%). Additionally, 55% of Iranians are struggling, while 20% are thriving. When Gallup first measured wellbeing globally in 2005, 12% in Iran were suffering, while 64% were struggling and 24% were thriving.

Gallup research finds that significant increases in suffering or substantial decreases in thriving often can be leading indicators for civil unrest. Most recently, Gallup found considerable drops in thriving in Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain and a significant increase in suffering in Greece.

In addition, wellbeing worldwide is highly correlated with the percentage of the workforce employed full time for an employer. In Iran, that percentage ranges from 20% to 29%. This lack of good jobs adds to the other political challenges Iran faces, including sanctions from much of the developed world.

The official statistics from the Iranian government put unemployment at about 15%. Gallup finds unemployment in Iran exceeding 15%, and among the highest rates in the world. Further, adding the percentage of the workforce who works part time but wants full-time work puts underemployment in Iran above 35%, which is also one of the highest rates in the world. Gallup also finds that more than 50% of people surveyed in Iran are not in the workforce, meaning they are either students, homemakers, retired, or people who have stopped looking for work.

Bottom Line

Joblessness not only negatively affects gross national wellbeing, but also negatively influences gross national product. As the country engages in the coming war for good jobs, Iran finds itself falling behind.

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Survey Methods

Results are based on landline telephone interviews conducted from a telephone center outside Iran with 1,003 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Feb. 26-March 30, 2011, in Iran. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.7 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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