Friday, March 26, 2010

Improving Governance with Gallup

Gallup surveys people's well-being in 155 different countries and got former Mexican President Vincente Fox to advertise for them. Fox says the great thing is that it's a tool to help policy makers know what their people really need. It's a means for getting customer feedback - he even uses the word customer - of increasing participation and letting the people voice their primary concerns.

Unfortunately, that's not what it does. The Global Wellbeing Survey asks people to rate their lives on a scale from 0 to 10 "the best possible life."
Individuals who rate their current lives a "7" or higher AND their future an "8" or higher are "Thriving." Individuals are "Suffering" if they report their current AND future lives as a "4" and lower. All other individuals are "Struggling."
This number follows the economic data pretty well, but it's another way for the Danes and other Scandinavians to show they are happier than everyone else, that Americans are happier than Europeans - Tino will I'm sure have much to say about this - and that Sub-Saharan Africans are miserable (median 8% thriving). That, or it means that Scandinavians don't have as good imaginations as Americans.

What it doesn't do is explain why. When they asked ex-Pres. Fox how he would use the data, he described what he believed to be Mexicans' greatest concerns, and off we go with another world of politicians imagining they know more than they do. Thank you, Gallup.

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