Gallup: Unhappiest People in the World Live in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq

Michael W. Chapman | September 9, 2022 | 1:31pm EDT
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(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- Although the U.S. waged wars in Afghanistan (2001-2021) and Iraq (2003-2011) after 9/11 to eliminate a brutal enemy and a dictator -- and establish some sort of democracy -- life in those two countries is not encouraging, according to Gallup, which found that the unhappiest people in the world today live in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq, in that order. 

In its annual survey, Gallup looked at a "composite measure of people's daily experiences of sadness, stress, worry, anger and physical pain. Higher scores on the index mean more of a population is experiencing these emotions."

In the index, Afghanistan ranked the highest on "negative experience" with a 59. Lebanon came in second with a 58, and Iraq was third at 51 "negative experience."  In 2019 and 2020 Iraq was at the top of the index as the most miserable country.  (See chart below.)  

(Gallup)
(Gallup)

"Most of the countries with the highest scores on the Negative Experience Index were contending with some type of economic or political instability in 2021 that is mirrored in their emotional health," said Gallup. 

"When Gallup surveyed Afghanistan as the Taliban retook control last year and as the U.S. withdrew its troops, Afghans' emotional state reflected the chaos and uncertainty," said the survey firm.  "Worry, stress and sadness soared to record-high levels in Afghanistan and were the highest in the world in 2021: 80% of Afghans were worried, 74% were stressed, and 61% were sad."

"Notably, no other population in the world has ever reported feeling this worried in the history of Gallup's trend," reported the polling company. 

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan.  (Getty Images)
Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Getty Images)

President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021 and the withdrawal was completed on Aug. 30, 2021. By most accounts, the operation was a disaster. In the chaos at the Kabul airport, for instance, an ISIS suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. soldiers and 170 Afghan citizens. Afghanistan is now ruled by the Taliban, a radical Islamist organization. 

According to the survey, "In Lebanon, political instability and government ineffectiveness have become the norm.... The quality of life has deteriorated so much that 63% of Lebanese adults said they would like to leave the country permanently if they could -- this desire is even stronger among those experiencing negative emotions."

Lebanon, on the northern border of Israel and western border of Syria, has experienced some form of conflict or war/civil war off and on since the 1960s. 

(Gallup)
(Gallup)

According to Gallup, "Nearly three in four people (74%) [in Lebanon]  said in 2021 that they experienced stress 'a lot of the day' during the previous day. About half of people in Lebanon also said they experienced a lot of sadness (56%) and anger (49%). Lebanon led the world in anger in 2021."

In addition to having the worst emotional health, people in Afghanistan and Lebanon "also rated their lives the worst, with Afghans rating their lives a 2.4 on a scale from zero to 10 (where 10 is the best possible life and zero is the worst) and Lebanese adults rating their lives a 2.2," reported Gallup. 

"To bring these data into sharper relief, while 24% of adults worldwide rated their lives a 3 out of 10 or lower, 72% of Lebanese adults and 87% of Afghan adults rated their lives the same way," said Gallup. 

Although the COVID pandemic contributed to unhappiness among many people, it is not the sole culprit. "Gallup's data show that the world has been on a negative trajectory for a decade," reported the firm. 

To read the survey, click here

A demonstrator waves a large Iraqi national flag during an anti-government protest over corruption and poor services in Tahrir Square in the centre of Iraq's capital Baghdad on November 8, 2020.  (Getty Images)
A demonstrator waves a large Iraqi national flag during an anti-government protest over corruption and poor services in Tahrir Square in the centre of Iraq's capital Baghdad on November 8, 2020. (Getty Images)
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