On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?
” (Also known as the “Cantril Ladder”.) The map below plots the average answer that survey-respondents provided to this question in different countries.
In economics lingo, we observe that the distribution of scores in European countries the distribution in sub-Saharan Africa.
This means that the share of people who are ‘happy’ is lower in sub-Saharan Africa than in Western Europe, independently of which score in the ladder we use as a threshold to define ‘happy’.
No other European country in this dataset has gone through a comparable negative shock.
Most of the studies comparing happiness and life satisfaction among countries focus on averages.
The main life evaluation question asked in the poll is: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top.
The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you.
In France, for example, we can see that the overall trend in the period 1974-2016 is positive; yet there is a pattern of ups and downs.
And second, despite temporary fluctuations, decade-long trends have been generally positive for most European countries.