Monday, March 29, 2010

Mapping Global Happiness

Yet another entrant in the genre of happiness cartography, this time courtesy of Gallup:

gallup global happiness map

The survey of 155 countries describes respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. The scale is very straightforward - it simply asks people to locate themselves on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst possible life for themselves and 10 is the best. The three categories break out as follows:
Thriving -- wellbeing that is strong, consistent, and progressing. These respondents have positive views of their present life situation (7+) and have positive views of the next five years (8+). They report significantly fewer health problems, fewer sick days, less worry, stress, sadness, anger, and more happiness, enjoyment, interest, and respect.

Struggling -- wellbeing that is moderate or inconsistent. These respondents have moderate views of their present life situation OR moderate OR negative views of their future. They are either struggling in the present, or expect to struggle in the future. They report more daily stress and worry about money than the "thriving" respondents, and more than double the amount of sick days. They are more likely to smoke, and are less likely to eat healthy.

-- wellbeing that is at high risk. These respondents have poor ratings of their current life situation (4 and below) AND negative views of the next five years (4 and below). They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter, more likely to have physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness, and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to "thriving" respondents.
The patterns are familiar from other similar surveys: overall the Americas tend to be happiest (a median of 42% of respondents are thriving), followed by Europe (29%), Asia (17%), and Africa (8%).

The five most satisfied countries in the world are - say it with me now - the Scandinavian countries of Denmark (82% thriving), Finland (75%), Norway (69%), and Sweden (68%), plus the Netherlands (68%). The highest in the Western Hemisphere is Costa Rica (63%), followed by Canada (62%), Panama (62%), Brazil (58%), and the United States (57%). Asia is led by New Zealand (63%), Israel (62%), and Australia (62%). The least satisfied are mostly in Africa - Togo (1%), Burundi (2%), and Comoros (2%) are the least satisfied countries in the world. Meanwhile, the big Asian countries are surprisingly low on the scale: Japan comes in at just 19% thriving, India at 10%, and China at 9%.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fast Food Nation

Stephen Von Worley, burger cartographer extraordinaire, has created a map that presents fast food dominance across US territory in delectably manichean terms:

hamburger map of the us

Not wrongly, Von Worley frames the Empire of the Gilded Parabola as evil and (more wrongly) the other fast food outlets as a scrappy alliance of insurgents. Says he:
In this and the following graphic, each individual restaurant location has equal power. The entity that controls each point casts the most aggregate burger force upon it, as calculated by the inverse-square law – kind of like a chart outlining the gravitational wells of galactic star clusters, but in an alternate, fast food universe.

By far, the largest pocket of resistance is Sonic Drive-In’s south-central stronghold: more than 900 restaurants packed into the state of Texas alone. Sheer density is the key to victory!

The rebels already have the numbers – over 24,000 locations in total – but they’ve divided and conquered themselves by strict adherence to the peacetime principles of brand identity and corporate structure. This is war, and for the sake of self-preservation, all must be sacrificed! Kings and Queens: get used to hanging with the common folk. Tone down the sarcasm, Jack. And everyone, please, stop yanking Wendy’s pigtails! Y’all need to work in harmony to succeed with the winning strategy: an Alliance!
I.e., black space is McDonalds land. The only other contiguous territory of any real scale belongs to Sonic, across much of Texas and subsidiary areas. But Jack in the Box shows some strength in the Southwest, Burger King's got a far-flung string of outposts from the Southeast to the Northwest, and even Hardee's puts up a fight in the Carolinas. Dairy Queen, which I had always thought of as sort of the village pub of small Texas towns, actually looks to be even stronger in precisely the areas of the Upper Midwest which are most prone to actual blizzards.

Go to Von Worley's post to see another map that shows that as a combined force, the upstarts swamp the McHegemon.

Via Andrew Sullivan.