The countries where you’re most likely to be having a good day

I recently came across a fun question buried* in Pew’s annual global poll. For several years the poll started with a question asking respondents whether they were having a typical day, a particularly good day or a particularly bad day.

Since they ran the poll in so many countries and asked this question for a few years it gives us a nice insight into cultural differences. Nigerians, it seems, usually have good days, while people in Jordan and Egypt are the most likely to be having a bad day – and even there just as many say they’re having a good day.

As a species, it seems, we tend to have good days (or at least to say we do).

Good day or bad day

Methodological stuff. For most of the countries, there are data for several years, eg the US and several European countries have data for every year from 2007 to 2012 (I excluded 2002 data as it seems long enough ago that national moods might have changed since then). A few (Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Tunisia, Palestine & Israel) have just one year’s of data so you should be a bit cautious of those because the interviews might just have been asked on a day where something had happened to influence the national mood.  The question doesn’t seem to have worked very well in Japan, where almost everyone said they were having a typical day. The surveys were conducted in the northern hemisphere spring/summer, so perhaps the responses might be slightly slanted towards people in southern hemisphere places being a bit less happy, if the weather tended to be worse.

And finally, of course what we’re seeing is what people are prepared to say to an interviewer. Does that actually mean they really consider themselves to be having a good/bad day or just that this is what they think they should say when asked about it? I suspect it’s a bit of both.


* On the first page

  1. name required says:

    The results will have a large response bias.

    Imagine a “Bad day” Scenario: you had a bad commute, and got soaked between the station and the workplace, then a coworker rings in sick and you have to cover for him and all the clients seem to be rude. You dash out to buy lunch and an interviewer asks “would you like to take part in a survey sir?” I doubt the interviewer will be recording your reply.

    Imagine a “Good day” scenario: the commute goes well, the sun is shining, you clinched two sales already and your coworker, feeling guilty about taking time off the other day, says he’ll cover you for a long lunch break.
    “”would you like to take part in a survey sir?” “yes, I would!”

    • Leo says:

      Ha, you’re probably right. Another reason not to take it too seriously. Can’t think of a reason it would affect the difference between countries, though there might be something I’m missing.

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