New research from RED C has found that the population is approaching 2017 happier than for some years, but with some significant concerns for the year ahead.  

Ireland’s response

In a recent study completed by RED C as part of a worldwide survey conducted by WIN/Gallup International, over 3 in 5 of all adults state that they are happy, a further increase on the upward trends in happiness seen last year, while just 12% suggest they are unhappy – the lowest levels recorded since we began tracking happiness among the population in 2011.


However optimism for the year ahead has fallen, with just over a third (38%) suggesting 2017 will be better than this year, while 21% suggest they think 2017 will be worse.  The two stand out features of the year ahead, that being Trumps inauguration and the UK’s Brexit plans, certainly appear to be providing some concern for people in the year ahead.


There is also for the first time in five years, a significant rise in those who believe that 2017 will be a year of economic difficulty.  Almost a third (31%) of all adults suggest they believe 2017 will be a year of economic difficulty, compared to just 19% who felt the same way approaching 2016.  This is a reversal of a trend since 2011 that has up to this year, which had previously seen year on year people believe the year ahead would be more prosperous than the year before.

A View From Around the World

When it comes to economic outlook across the rest of the world, the study shows that 42% of the world is optimistic for the economic outlook in 2017, almost double (22%) of those who are pessimistic. Net optimism (the percentage of those saying next year will be one of economic prosperity minus the percentage who say next year will be one of economic difficulty) has fallen from +23% to +20%.

European citizens are significantly less optimistic than anywhere else in the world: EU Europe net score of -26%, an average that is significantly worse than seen in Ireland at -9%. The challenges posed to the very future of the EU project in 2016 may well have created economic doubt within the world’s largest economic bloc. Within Europe, economic pessimism is most acutely felt in Italy (net score of -48%), the UK (net score of -38%) and France (net score of -35%). 

A happier world albeit with some stark regional differences

Two in three (68%) citizens of the world report being happy, a figure which has risen 2% from twelve months ago, despite a year in which the world has seen considerable change and a year of frequent and bloody terrorist attacks. Of the 66541 people surveyed, 9% said that they were unhappy, down from 10% at the end of 2015.  Overall this means that the world is +59% net happy (happiness minus unhappiness).

But regionally the story is very different with those in East Asia and Oceania significantly happier than those in the Middle East. For example, happiness in Fiji and China, the net happiest countries of the world (net scores of +89% and +80% respectively) is in stark contrast to happiness in Iraq, which rates as the unhappiest of all 66 countries surveyed (net score of less than +1%).

Hope: High amongst Middle and Low Income Nations

As most of the world welcomes a New Year, we see a majority (52%) of the planet feeling that overall 2017 will be better than 2016, although one in seven (15%) feel it will be worse (giving a net score of +37%, which represents a small drop of 2% points from a year ago). Those living in some of the fastest growing countries in the world (Bangladesh net +77%, Ghana net +76%, Ivory Cost +72%, Fiji +62%, China net +56%, India net +55% and Brazil net +51%) are the most hopeful for the year ahead. However, it is the economic superblocks of the EU (net score of 1%) and North America (net score of +11%) which show the least optimism for improvement. With Prime Minister Renzi losing a referendum this month and with an economic recovery that does not take off, it is perhaps of no surprise that it is the Italians (net score of -42%) who are most concerned about the year ahead.

Richard Colwell, CEO of RED C said:

“While it is great to see so many of the Irish population happy at the end of 2016, the Optimism and Prosperity results will cause some concern for business in Ireland.  The very real dangers ahead, including the unknown impact of Trump as leader of the free world and the further possible impacts of Brexit, appear to already be weighing down on consumers expectations.  They may well be an early indicator of a possible decline in consumer confidence and resulting spend that drives the Irish economy”


The WIN/Gallup International survey is an annual tradition initiated by and designed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. It is conducted every year since then. This year it was carried out by the WIN/Gallup International Association in 66 countries around the world. It is the poll’s 40th anniversary.

Sample Size and Mode of Field Work:

A total of 66541 people were interviewed globally. In each country a representative sample of around 1000 men and women was interviewed either face to face (25 countries; n=29211), via telephone (13 countries; n=10754), online (25 countries; n=23947) or through mixed methods (3 countries; n=2629). The field work was conducted during October-December 2016. The margin of error for the survey is between +/-3-5% at 95% confidence level.   In Ireland, RED C interviewed a representative sample of 1000 adults online throughout Ireland between 27th – 30th November 2016.

Download the full report below: