The Vladimir Putin effect is pushing Russian lives ahead, while Americans are begging for change
America, the (increasingly) miserable.
The percentage of Americans who are thriving — meaning that they rank their lives highly on a scale of 0 – 10 — has plummeted 10 percentage points since 2007, according to an analysis of the G20 nations that Gallup did for Dow Jones’ Moneyish. That’s the worst drop of any of the nations measured, other than India. (The G20 nations are the world’s 20 leading economies, representing 85% of the world’s GDP and two-thirds of its population; data on some G20 countries was not yet available at time of publication.)
The majority of nations experienced some drop in their scores, but a few saw an improvement in their scores. Among them, Russia, where the percentage of residents who said they were thriving rose 11 percentage points from 2007 to 2014 (the highest score measured) — and is still three percentage points higher than in 2007 (though Gallup notes that three points is right at the margin or error.)
Where life is getting better — and worse — for residents
|Country||Change in score from 2007 – 2017|
It’s important to point out that America started with one of the highest percentages of thriving residents (66%), while Russia has much lower overall scores (about one in four people live thriving lives). Still, the precipitous drop in U.S. residents life evaluations is disturbing.
So why might Russians be increasingly thriving as Americans aren’t? Call it: The Putin Effect. “Riding a groundswell of national pride after the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, thriving in Russia rallied to a record-high 34%. Positivity colored nearly all aspects of Russians’ lives that year — even as oil prices and the Ruble collapsed,” explains Julie Ray, a writer and editor for Gallup. Plus, “President Vladimir Putin’s job approval rating soared from 54% to 83% in the space of a year, and a record 73% believed their leadership was taking Russia in the right direction.” Putin’s current approval rating stands at a very high 80%, though overall well-being scores for Russians have admittedly fallen in the past few years.
Meanwhile, the possible reasons behind the increasing misery in the U.S. — in 2015, Americans’ ratings of their current lives fell below a 7 out of 10 for the first time in the history of Gallup doing this index — are less clear, says Ray. “The drop probably reflects a combination and compounding of factors,” she explains.
These factors include “a U.S. economy in sluggish rebound for years and a population ready for change – and the possibility for change,” as well as GDP and real wage growth that “have been pretty lackluster.” Add in the fact that “Americans are finding themselves paying more for housing, healthcare and education” and facing a job market where many are “still out of the workforce or involuntarily working in part-time jobs” and you can see why we may not feel we’re thriving.
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