If you are feeling very sad about the coming year, you are probably French. If the thought of the new year fills you with hope and optimism then you may be from Nigeria, Vietnam or even Kosovo.
So where does that leave North Americans? The new "Global Barometer of Hope and Despair" polled 53 countries and found that the old world is worried and the new global powers are not.
Photo: spearhead research
The survey, carried out by Gallup, questioned 64,000 people in 53 countries. It measures levels of optimism about personal well-being and the state of the economy in the coming year.
On a global level we are a slightly optimistic bunch: 30% of the world expects that 2011 will be a year of prosperity and 28% expect it to be a year of economic difficulty, with 42% thinking that things will stay the same.
When you break it down amongst countries, it turns out that some 19 countries are classified as hopeful, while 34 are Pessimists.
But look who the pessimists are: most of the wealthiest nations of the world (the red quadrant). How miserable to be France, at minus 58 or Britain at minus 44.
The purples have high income and high hopes (Scandinavia and Switzerland).
There is also a third group (yellow square) of countries which are poor and pessimistic: Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia.
But the greens win and oddly enough they are the countries with some of the lowest per capita incomes but the highest hopes. They include Nigeria (70 points), Vietnam, 61 and Ghana, 47. China is fourth, Brazil fifth and India ninth.
What is happening here? There is a widening gulf between the newly prospering countries and the bleak outlook of the West. A Nigerian in the Guardian tries to explain it. He says that Nigerians have an incredible optimism about life and a spirit of entrepreneurship. "That drive and ambition fuels their optimism; they're working towards happiness, so they're happy.",
Photo: little london observationist
What about the French and the British: what's their excuse? According to one French philosopher, France has "a tradition of self-flagellation--the better we live, the more we complain." They call it "miserabilisme."
As for the British, only 8% believe that it will be a year of prosperity, 37% believe unemployment will rise and 23% believe that it will be a better year.
It gets worse. A survey by the Happy Egg Company found that only 20 per cent of those questioned said they were happy at work and just 30 per cent were satisfied with their home life because of too little leisure time.