Global Decline in Affective Well-Being
Based upon the Gallup World Poll data used in this study, suffering and other negative experiences worldwide have been slowly increasing during the past decade, despite positive economic global growth. One way to characterize these findings is that the benefits of global economic growth have been overwhelmed by harmful forces such as ethnic conflicts, the so called ‘war on terror,’ widespread armed conflict and the resulting refugee crisis. Another culprit is the rising inequality of income and wealth. In a world where those trapped in poverty produce the highest population growth, any forces such as inequality of power, income and even suffering contribute to increasing negative well-being.
These findings lend support to international post-development and related theories that emphasize the importance of social forces other than economic growth. Positive well-being and the economic indicators remain flat across the past ten years, but negative indicators mostly have gone up. The global decline in well-being appears primarily among indicators of negative well-being. This finding calls into question the conventional wisdom that world poverty has been rapidly declining and global well-being rising.