Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Iraqis Not Feeling Well Psychologically

Gallup recently released the results of two public opinion polls it conducted that included Iraq. The two were on people’s feelings about their health, and were conducted at the end of 2011. “Middle East Leads World in Negative Emotions” discovered that Iraqis had the most stress out of 148 countries around the world. “Iraqis’ Views of Their Health Worst in MENA” found that people in the Middle East and North Africa had high levels of anger and sadness, with Iraq being at very bottom. Both showed that even though violence is down, Iraqis still have many things to worry about like their government, work, family, and basic living.

According to Gallup, Iraq had the lowest scores on how people felt about their health in the Middle East and North Africa. At the end of 2011, Gallup polled 17 countries, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen for its Physical Wellbeing Index. 1,000 people aged 15 or older were asked five questions about whether they had any health problems, were well rested, had physical pain, worried, or were sad. Iraq got a score of 47, which placed it at the bottom of the region by far. It was eleven points lower than the next country Egypt, and also the worst that Iraq had done since Gallup started doing the survey in 2008. In 2009 for instance, it had a score of 60. Gallup’s poll was on how people felt, rather than how they actually were, which could be determined by statistics about life expectancy, infant mortality rates, etc. The company thought their results were important, because people who felt better about themselves had better views of their future. The figures for Iraq showed that its populace was deeply troubled about their situation, which could mean they were pessimistic about what was going to happen to them later on as well. Iraq’s security situation has greatly improved from the civil war years of 2005-2008. Its political system has become completely deadlocked since the 2010 parliamentary elections however, and the economy, while improving in the aggregate, still has major structural problems with unemployment and poverty. Those could be reasons why Iraqis felt so bad about their situation, compared to countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Morocco that were well off, stable, and at the top of the Index.

Gallup Physical Wellbeing Index – Middle East and North Africa
1. United Arab Emirates 80
1. Kuwait 80
3. Morocco 78
4. Saudi Arabia 75
5. Qatar 73
5. Algeria 73
6. Yemen 72
7. Oman 71
8. Lebanon 70
9. Jordan 70
10. Turkey 68
11. Israel 67
12. Tunisia 66
13. Iran 65
14. Palestine 62
15. Bahrain 60
16. Egypt 58
17. Iraq 47

Breaking down some of the questions asked of people showed that most Iraqis had slipped back to how they felt when the survey first started in 2008 or even thought of themselves as being worse off. When questioned about whether they felt physical pain the day before the survey for example, in 2008 54% said yes, and 41% said no. That dropped down to the 40s for yes in 2009 to early 2011, before returning to 54% yes at the end of 2011, and 42% no. When it came to whether Iraqis had worried, things had declined. In 2008, 54% said yes, and 41% said no. By late 2011, 62% said yes, and 35% said no. That was the highest percentage of people saying no in four years. From the three questions that details were provided, it was apparent that Iraqis felt like things had changed for the better after 2008, but then they had gone back to just as they were before, or gotten worse by last year. 2008 was when the civil war ended, and 2009 was when provincial elections were held, and it seemed like more people were buying into the political system. That hopeful attitude changed with the 2010 parliamentary vote, and could be a driving force for the change in attitudes shown in the poll.

3 of 5 Questions From Gallup Physical Wellbeing Index – Middle East and North Africa

Did you experience physical pain yesterday?
2008 54% Yes, 41% No
Early 2009 61% Yes, 38% No
Mid 2009 48% Yes, 49% No
2010 42% Yes, 53% No
Early 2011 48% Yes, 47% No
End 2011 54% Yes, 42% No

Did you worry yesterday?
2008 54% Yes, 41% No
Early 2009 49% Yes, 50% No
Mid 2009 54% Yes, 42% No
2010 44% Yes, 51% No
Early 2011 56% Yes, 40% No
Late 2011 62% Yes, 35% No

Did you feel well rested yesterday?
2008 56% Yes, 40% No
Early 2009 60% Yes, 39% No
Mid 2009 50% Yes, 46% No
2010 52% Yes, 45% No
Early 2011 40% Yes, 54% No
Late-2011 40% Yes, 54% No

Gallup conducted another very similar poll at the end of 2011, its Negative Experience Index, which placed Iraq in last place. Gallup asked five questions of 1,000 people 15 years or older in 148 countries last year. The survey asked whether people felt anger, stress, worry, sadness, and physical pain. The higher the score a country received, the more negative feelings they had. Iraq came in dead last with 59. Palestine was second to the bottom at 43, followed by Bahrain at 41, the Philippines at 40, and Togo and Egypt both at 39. The countries with the best scores were Somaliland with 11, Uzbekistan at 12, and Thailand and Kyrgyzstan at 13 each. Overall, Gallup found that the nations included in the poll were feeling worse off in 2011 than 2010. All the countries in the Middle East and North Africa with the exception of Yemen had some of the worst rankings in the world. Gallup believed that the countries at the bottom like Iraq faced economic hardships, and political protests last year, causing people to feel worse about their situation.

Gallup Negative Experience Index – 10 Worse Countries
1. Iraq 59
2. Palestine 43
3. Bahrain 41
4. Philippines 40
5. Togo 39
5. Egypt 39
7. Turkey 38
7. Greece 38
9. Armenia 37
10. Pakistan 36
10. Serbia 36
10. Bolivia 36
10. Iran 36

Both polls by Gallup revealed that psychologically, Iraqis were not well off. The country ranked dead last in both surveys about how they felt. Not only that, but the Well Being Index showed that many people believed that their situation had been reversed in the last year or two. One would think that with violence down, and many going back to the regular routines would lead many to feel better. The two surveys showed the opposite has happened. That could mean that the political and economic situations were weighing down the public. Other recent opinion polls show a similar level of unhappiness as well. Rather than enjoying their new lives, Iraqis appear to be feeling rather pessimistic mentally.


Clifton, Jon, “Middle East Leads World in Negative Emotions,” Gallup, 6/6/12

Ott, Bryant, “Iraqis’ Views of Their Health Worst in MENA,” Gallup, 6/1/12

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