For the second year running, a tiny Central American country is the prime example of what it means to be “thriving”: According to the new Gallup-Healthways State of Well-Being report, Panama leads the world in overall wellness.
Experts surveyed 146,000 adults in 145 countries to assess how people feel about their everyday lives. The Global Well-Being Index measures five aspects that comprise well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. Survey respondents could answer questions in each category with “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering.” The poll determines global well-being by ranking countries according to whether they are thriving in three or more aspects.
Panama notched the overall victory, with 53 percent of residents thriving in three or more well-being measures in 2014. They also grabbed two smaller wins, leading the world in both purpose (60 percent of residents) and physical well-being (52 percent). Other countries finishing on top were Puerto Rico, where 63 percent thrive in social well-being; Norway, where 69 percent thrive financially; and Sri Lanka, where 50 percent thrive in their communities.
Afghanistan comes in last in the ranking, with 0 percent of its population thriving in three or more aspects of well-being. The country ranks last in purpose, social, and financial well-being. As for the other two elements, physical and community well-being, Bhutan scored lowest, at just 5 and 6 percent of residents thriving respectively in those elements.
Just 17 percent of adults surveyed globally were thriving in three or more aspects of well-being in 2014, the same as in 2013. (In case you’re curious, the United States toppled to 23rd overall in wellness, falling from the previous year’s 12th-place finish.)
The report helps note the areas of the world most in need of a wellness boost. “Globally, higher well-being has been associated with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience —for example, healthcare utilization, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism, and willingness to help others,” the report notes.
Take a look at the countries with the highest and lowest well-being, according to the ranking:
Top 10 countries with the highest well-being
1. Panama – 53 percent thriving
2. Costa Rica – 47.6 percent thriving
3. Puerto Rico – 45.8 percent thriving
4. Switzerland – 39.4 percent thriving
5. Belize – 38.9 percent thriving
6. Chile – 38.7 percent thriving
7. Denmark – 37 percent thriving
8. Guatemala – 36.3 percent thriving
9. Austria – 35.6 percent thriving
10. Mexico – 35.6 percent thriving
The 10 countries with the lowest well-being
136. Ghana – 5.6 percent thriving
137. Haiti – 5.3 percent thriving
138. Benin – 4.8 percent thriving
139. Ivory Coast – 4.5 percent thriving
140. Congo Kinshasa – 4.1 percent thriving
141. Tunisia – 4 percent thriving
142. Togo – 3.9 percent thriving
143. Cameroon – 3.1 percent thriving
144. Bhutan – 3 percent thriving
145. Afghanistan – 0 percent thriving