Each differently-colored distribution refers to a world region; and for each region, we have overlaid the distribution for the entire world as a reference.
These plots show that in sub-Saharan Africa—the region with the lowest average scores–the distributions are consistently to the left of those in Europe.
For several countries, these surveys have been conducted at least annually for more than 40 years.
The visualization below shows the share of people who report being ‘very satisfied’ or ‘fairly satisfied’ with their standards of living, according to this source. First, estimates of life satisfaction often fluctuate around trends.
On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?
” (Also known as the “Cantril Ladder”.) The map below plots the average answer that survey-respondents provided to this question in different countries.In this entry, we discuss the data and empirical evidence that might answer these questions.Our focus here will be on survey-based measures of self-reported happiness and life satisfaction. The World Happiness Report is a well-known source of cross-country data and research on self-reported life satisfaction.No other European country in this dataset has gone through a comparable negative shock.Most of the studies comparing happiness and life satisfaction among countries focus on averages.In economics lingo, we observe that the distribution of scores in European countries the distribution in sub-Saharan Africa.This means that the share of people who are ‘happy’ is lower in sub-Saharan Africa than in Western Europe, independently of which score in the ladder we use as a threshold to define ‘happy’.However, distributional differences are also important. Life satisfaction is often reported on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 representing the highest possible level of satisfaction. The below visualization shows how responses are distributed across steps in this ladder.In each case, the height of bars is proportional to the fraction of answers at each score.As with the steps of the ladder, values in the map range from 0 to 10. According to 2016 figures, Nordic countries top the ranking: Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Iceland have the highest scores (all with averages above 7).In the same year, the lowest national scores correspond to Central African Republic, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Haiti (all with average scores below 3.5).