"Suffering" in Haiti Lowest Since 2006

by Linda Lyons

Emotional wellbeing more positive as well

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Haitians rate their lives better now than they did before the earthquake ravaged their country two years ago. The percentage of Haitians rating their lives poorly enough to be considered "suffering" dropped to a record-low 18% in 2011, and the percentage who are "thriving" reached double digits for the first time last year. The situation is much different from 2010, when the 2% of Haitians who were "thriving" was among the lowest in the world.

Haitians' Wellbeing Improves in 2011

Gallup classifies Haitians' wellbeing 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
. Those who rate their present life a 7 or higher and their life in five years an 8 or higher are classified as thriving, while those who rate both dimensions a 4 or lower are considered suffering. Respondents whose ratings fall between these scores are considered struggling.

Since the catastrophic earthquake in early 2010 killed more than 300,000 Haitians, left 1.5 million homeless, and destroyed 80% of Haiti's GDP, several nations and nonprofit institutions have been working with the Haitian government to push development forward. These efforts may be supplying Haitians with some emotional buoyancy.

Positive Emotions Up; Negative Emotions Down

More Haitians are reporting feeling positive emotions such as enjoyment (59%) than in 2010. The percentages of Haitians experiencing negative emotions such as sadness (22%), stress (26%), and anger (19%) are also down, each declining by six or more percentage points in the past year.

Haitians' Emotional Wellbeing Improves in 2011

Good News and Not-So-Good News

Haitians' optimism is evident in a number of other areas as well, including record-level confidence in government institutions. On the employment front, Haitians are twice as likely to believe that now is a good time to find a job (26%) than they were in 2010 (12%), and satisfaction with their standard of living has increased significantly to 26% from 16% in 2010.

Not all of the news out of Haiti is quite as promising. Haitians' ratings of current economic conditions in the city or area where they live are comparatively flat -- 17% in 2011 vs. 14% in 2010 say economic conditions are good. Eighteen percent believe economic conditions in their city are getting better. And relatively few (12%) are satisfied with the availability of good job opportunities. Haiti will need to create these types of jobs to sustain any momentum.

Bottom Line

The gains in "thriving" and emotional wellbeing in Haiti may seem contrary to expectations given the upheaval the nation suffered only two years ago. However, international aid has poured into Haiti, perhaps giving hope to residents of the Western Hemisphere's poorest country that economic development will be a positive outcome of the 2010 devastation. But outside help won't be enough to ensure meaningful, permanent change takes hold. Haitians themselves will need to take ownership of these changes -- and rising optimism can surely create an exponential increase in positivity to keep Haitians focused on recovery and renewal.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 504 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Oct. 23-28, 2011, in Haiti. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4.8 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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