As part of their ongoing partnership in innovation, global well-being improvement leader Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and world-leading management consulting firm Gallup have released their inaugural analysis of the state of global well-being. More than 133,000 surveys in 135 countries or other areas led to the new report, entitled, “State of Global Well-Being: Results of the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index,” which outlines the growing importance of well-being as an indicator of societies’ prosperity and progress, compares countries across five key elements of well-being, and offers strategies for population-based well-being improvement.
“Working together, Gallup and Healthways have the unique ability to measure well-being at individual, organization and geographic levels, creating a ‘golden thread’ of data and insights that allows us to act with precision to create meaningful change in populations. By understanding individuals in the context of their social frameworks, work environments, communities, states, countries and ultimately the world — in ever-widening circles — we are able to create a very straight path to a return on value from a wide array of well-being improvement initiatives,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., president and chief executive officer, Healthways.
“Every leader, in every country, has a duty to improve the lives and communities of the populations they serve,” added Jim Clifton, chairman and chief executive officer, Gallup. “As the Gallup-Healthways partnership expands its global view, discovering new opportunities and challenges, this landmark index provides a significant step for our partnership in becoming the world’s official statistician for well-being and the leading provider of well-being improvement strategies across the globe.”
Since 2008, Gallup and Healthways have examined the well-being of U.S. adults via the Well-Being Index, a definitive measure and empiric database of real-time changes in well-being. The index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals to capture the important aspects of how people feel about and experience their daily lives, extending well beyond conventional measures of physical health or economic indicators. Measuring well-being gives leaders a unique, quantitative perspective on how their populations self-report the state of their lives currently and how they anticipate their lives will be in the future — information that is vital to inform well-being improvement strategies. With the launch of the Global Well-Being Index, the two companies have formed the most comprehensive measure of well-being in the world.
Well-being has five prominent elements:
- Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
- Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
Gallup conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with respondents in the 135 countries and regional areas. Approximately 1,000 interviews were conducted in the majority of countries, for a total of more than 133,000 interviews in 2013. Responses were then used to determine whether a country had high, medium or low levels of well-being in each of the five elements.
The ten countries or areas with the highest overall well-being in the world, as assessed by the percentage of their populations indicating that they are thriving in three or more of the five elements, are as follows:
- Panama (61%)
- Costa Rica (44%)
- Denmark (40%)
- Austria (39%)
- Brazil (39%)
- Uruguay (37%)
- El Salvador (37%)
- Sweden (36%)
- Guatemala (34%)
- Canada (34%)
The United States surprisingly fell outside the top 10, ranking #12 in global well-being. The U.S. ranks in the top 20 worldwide in purpose and social well-being, with strong levels of thriving and relatively low suffering in each element that set it apart. In other areas of well-being, however, the United States does not stand out. The percentage of American adults who are suffering in physical and community well-being is comparable to global levels.
The ten countries or areas with the lowest overall well-being in the world, as assessed by the percentage of their populations indicating that they are thriving in three or more of the five elements, are as follows:
- Syria (1%)
- Afghanistan (1%)
- Haiti (3%)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (5%)
- Chad (5%)
- Madagascar (6%)
- Uganda (6%)
- Benin (6%)
- Croatia (7%)
- Georgia (7%)
Globally, only 17% of the world’s population is thriving in three or more elements. Of all the regions, the Americas have the highest levels of well-being, with all elements outperforming the global percentages. The difference relative to global thriving rates was greatest in social well-being (where the Americas achieved 20 percentage points more than the global percentage; 23% global versus 43% Americas). Financial well-being had the smallest difference relative to global thriving rates, with a 4 percentage point difference (25% global versus 29% Americas).
“Improvement in each of the five well-being elements uniquely contributes to an increase in organizational value and reduction in cost. Their individual contributions, however, will vary based on the outcome being examined. While improvement in any one element will already positively affect the other four, strategies to improve well-being are optimally effective when the elements are addressed in concert with one another,” said Peter Choueiri, president of Healthways International.
In the United States, improving well-being has been shown to lower healthcare costs and increase worker productivity, in turn enhancing organizational and community competitiveness. Globally, higher well-being correlates 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 strangers.
Visit http://info.healthways.com/wellbeingindex to access any of the Well-Being Index reports, including “State of Global Well-Being,” “State of American Well-Being” and individual reports for each of the 50 American states.
Full press release published on www.healthways.com