Gallup survey reveals Indians optimistic on economy and govt, but personal satisfaction plummets; will politicos pay heed?

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, a majority of Indians have been highly optimistic about the economy and expressed confidence in their government even as their rating of 'personal satisfaction' got worse every year, a Gallup survey revealed.

FP Staff January 24, 2018 20:18:28 IST
Gallup survey reveals Indians optimistic on economy and govt, but personal satisfaction plummets; will politicos pay heed?

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, a majority of Indians have been highly optimistic about the economy and expressed confidence in their government even as their rating of 'personal satisfaction' got worse every year, a Gallup survey revealed.

Gallup survey reveals Indians optimistic on economy and govt but personal satisfaction plummets will politicos pay heed

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The survey, entitled What Happiness Today Tells Us About the World Tomorrow, examined more than a decade of Gallup data on how people in over 100 countries rated their lives.

 The results — which might sound alarm bells in the government as the 2019 elections draw ever closer — showed that in 2014, fourteen percent of Indians rated their lives as 'thriving', but that number declined to just 3 percent in 2017. According to the survey, this showed that citizens' hopes for the economy and leadership may not always match how well they think things are going for them.

Why should our leaders care?

Because people want change when they see their lives headed in the wrong direction, Gallup managing director Jon Clifton wrote in the survey. Clifton cited research by the London School of Economics academic George Ward, which showed how people felt about their personal lives influenced how they voted in elections. Clifton said Ward believed that subjective measures of well-being better predict how people would vote rather than questions about how they felt about the economy in general.

Clifton said that while Ward's research focused on European democracies, how people felt about their lives ought to matter to leaders of all countries. Clifton pointed to people's ratings of their lives trending downwards ahead of unrest in the countries which saw the Arab Spring and in Ukraine in the years leading up to the Euromaidan revolution.

Rural lead the way, urban follow

According to the survey, the decline in satisfaction initially struck India's largely rural population: Between 2014 and 2015, the number dropped from 14 percent to 7 percent, and from 2016 to 2017, that number declined further to four percent and three percent. Urban Indians initially saw a steady decline in satisfaction since 2014, however, in the past year, the numbers dropped precipitously: From 11 percent to 4 percent.

The Modi government need not look too far for examples of warning signs ahead of a big election: Life ratings were down in the both the United Kingdom and the United States ahead of Brexit and the 2016 election where Donald Trump was elected president, respectively.

And Indians weren't the only ones to state that fewer and fewer of them felt they were thriving since 2014: Their lack of personal satisfaction was echoed by the Russians, the Egyptians and the Colombians, all of whom are slated to go to the polls over the next couple of years.

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