top of page

Figure 1. Judgmental well-being among OBOR countries

Figure 2. Emotional well-being among OBOR countries

In this study, we look at the well-being level and inequality around the OBOR countries. We collected our data from Gallup World Poll (GWP), which has been surveying an increasing number of countries since 2005 about life evaluation and a range of positive and negative experiential questions.


We aim to obtain the most recent year well-being data of GWP in 2016 for OBOR countries. Among the OBOR member countries, Brunei and Maldives are not accessed by GWP, and Oman only has data in 2011, so that we exclude these three countries. Additionally, several countries do not have GWP surveys in 2016 but do have in 2015, and thus we calculated the averaged well-being score for 64 countries over the years 2015~2016.


In terms of measures, emotional well-being is measured by taking the difference of positive experience and negative experience sore of each corresponding country to represent the overall positive emotional condition of each country, and judgmental well-being is measured by the life evaluation or life ladder sore of each country.

Specifically, the individual positive experience score is the mean of all valid affirmative responses (yes or no) to five items about the respondents’ experienced well-being on the day before the survey in terms of feeling well-rested, being treated with respect all day, smiling or laughing a lot, learning or doing something interesting, and experiencing enjoyment. The individual negative experience score is the mean of all valid affirmative responses (yes or no) to five items about the respondents’ experienced well-being of physical pain, worry, sadness, stress and depression on the day before the survey. The country-level experience index aggregated the individual score, ranging from zero to one, by taking the average of the individual score within that country. The individual life evaluation score is measured by answers to the Cantril ladder question: “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. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?” And the country score took the average of all the participating individual scores within that country.


Therefore, Figure 1 shows the judgmental well-being score for each country and Figure 2 demonstrates the emotional well-being ranking for each country. From each graph, we can see there is quite big variances in well-being among all the OBOR countries, and there are some staggering differences among the ranking for two well-being indicators though most countries are still in consistent positions. For instance, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka have high emotional well-being scores (ranked as 4 and 7), but bear extremely low judgmental well-being score (ranked as 48 and 52). Besides, China also possess a high emotional well-being score, ranking 3rd among 64 OBOR countries, but only stays at the medium level in regards of life evaluation score, ranking only 32nd. In contrast, Turkey has a medium level score of life evaluation, but ranks really low, scoring 62nd in emotional experience.

Another important indicator of well-being status is well-being inequality, apart from the well-being level. Hence, we also collect and calculate the relevant information.


Well-being inequality reflects the amount of variance within individual well-being score within one population, and thus is generally measured by the standard deviation of individual well-being score within that population. As we only have access to relevant information about life evaluation. We only show the well-being inequality score in the sense of judgmental well-being among OBOR countries in Figure 3. Since we suppose that low inequality scores means better development, we rank the countries from low to high well-being inequality score


Generally, countries with high well-being level score have a relatively low well-being inequality score, indicating a negative association between the two indicators. However, some inconsistent and interesting results are found as well. Bhutan has low score in both well-being inequality and well-being, thus scoring 4th in well-being inequality, but scoring 43rd in well-being level. Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan also rank high in well-being inequality (1st and 5th), but are at a medium level in well-being level, ranking 20th and 34th.


Figure 3. Well-being inequality among OBOR countries

bottom of page