People in Taiwan are happier than their counterparts in the three other so-called “Asian Dragons” — Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore, according to the results of a worldwide poll recently released by Gallup Inc. The poll of nearly 150,000 people found that eight of the 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Gallup asked about 1,000 people in 148 countries or areas last year if they were well-rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment the previous day.
In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent of those interviewed said “yes” to all five questions asked in the poll, putting both countries at the top of the list. They were followed by El Salvador (84 percent), Venezuela (84 percent), Trinidad and Tobago (83 percent), Thailand (83 percent), Guatemala (82 percent), the Philippines (82 percent), Ecuador (81 percent) and Costa Rica (81 percent).
The US tied with China, with 76 percent of people interviewed in the survey showing upbeat attitudes. Taiwan trailed closely behind, with 75 percent reporting buoyant or optimistic emotions. In Japan the figure was 72 percent, followed by Hong Kong (69 percent) and South Korea (63 percent).
According to the Gallup poll, wealthy nations can be unhappy ones, while poverty-stricken countries may have cheerful populations. For instance, the people least likely to report positive emotions were in Singapore, one of the most developed countries in the world. Only 46 percent of those living in the orderly Southeast Asian city-state showed upbeat emotions.
The poll results contradict findings obtained in other surveys using more traditional metrics that tend to focus on per capita income, GDP, life expectancy and college graduation rates.