Gallup’s Life Evaluation Index measures respondents’ perceptions of where they stand now and in the future. Building on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, Gallup measures life satisfaction by quantifying the difference between the best possible life and the worst possible life using a simple, two-part question -- Gallup’s Best Possible Life Scale. Gallup asks respondents to place the status of their current and future lives on a “ladder” scale with steps numbered from zero to 10, where zero indicates the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life:
Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. Suppose we say that the top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you, and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you.
On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time? (0-10)
Just your best guess, on which step do you think you will stand in the future, say about five years from now? (0-10)
Thriving, Struggling and Suffering
Gallup classifies respondents into one of three categories of wellbeing (thriving, struggling or suffering) and determines the percentage of respondents in each category. Individuals who rate their current life a 7 or higher AND their future life an 8 or higher are “thriving.” Individuals are “suffering” if they rate their current AND future lives a 4 or below. All other individuals are “struggling.”
Thriving: These respondents have positive views of their present life situation (7 or higher rating on current life) and have positive views of the next five years (8 or higher rating on future life). They report significantly fewer health problems and less worry, stress, sadness, depression and anger. They report more hope, happiness, energy, interest and respect.
Struggling: These respondents struggle in their present life situation and have uncertain or negative views about their future. They report more daily stress and worry about money than thriving respondents do.
Suffering: These respondents rate their present life situation poorly (4 or below rating on current life) and have negative views of the next five years (4 or below on future life). They are more likely to report that they lack the basics of food and shelter and more likely to have physical pain and a lot of stress, worry, sadness and anger. They have less access to health insurance and healthcare and more than double the disease burden compared with thriving respondents.
Global wellbeing data are collected using the Gallup World Poll, which has conducted surveys of the world’s adult population, using randomly selected samples, since 2005. The survey is administered annually in person or by telephone, covering more than 160 countries and areas since its inception. Gallup’s global wellbeing data reflect the responses of adults, aged 15 and older, who are employed for any number of hours by an employer.
U.S. wellbeing data are collected using the Gallup Panel, which is based on a random sample of adults, aged 18 and older, working full time or part time for organizations in the United States, who are members of the Gallup Panel. Gallup uses probability-based, random sampling methods to recruit its Panel members.