A color-coded map of the countries where people feel the most and least loved

February 14, 2013

Click to enlarge. Data from Gallup. (Max Fisher/Washington Post)

Over 2006 and 2007, Gallup surveyed people in 136 countries about the amount of love in their lives, asking them, "Did you experience love for a lot of the day yesterday?" The point of the question was to determine the countries where people feel the most and least loved.

I've mapped out the data above: In red countries, people are more likely to say they experienced a lot of love the previous day. In blue, they're more likely to answer no.

Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, who are married partners, are writing about and charting that Gallup data at Bloomberg Views. Wonkblog's Ezra Klein also reproduced one of their delightfully heart-shaped charts.

There's some fascinating data embedded in this map, and much of it, befitting Valentine's Day, is good news. In the vast majority of surveyed countries, most than half of respondents answered yes when asked if they'd felt a lot of love the previous day. The three countries with the very highest scores are, in this order, the Philippines (93 percent), Rwanda (92 percent) and Puerto Rico (90 percent). The region that appears to experience the most love is Latin America, followed by Southeast Asia and Western Europe.

Interestingly, these findings seems generally consistent with a 2009 Gallup survey that attempted to determine the countries where people experience the most and least emotion on a daily basis (I mapped and wrote about that survey here). In other words, emotionality and experiences of love appear to track with one another.

What about the countries where fewer than half of respondents said they'd experience a lot of love the previous day? Most of them are former Soviet republics: Russia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caucuses region all consistently scored poorly. Interestingly, those countries also tend to have very high smoking rates.

Other low-scoring countries included Burma/Myanmar, Yemen, and three African states: Ethiopia, Chad and Morocco. In general, though, respondents in the Middle East and in sub-Saharan Africa seems to respond positively, if not in quite as large numbers as other parts of the world.

In the United States, 81 percent of respondents answered yes to the survey question. Americans are tied with Laotians, Argentineans, Belgians, Canadians and Greeks.

Not a single country scored in the bottom category on the map, with 25 percent or fewer of respondents answering yes to the question. If you're wondering why I even bothered including that category, well, I thought we could use a little bit of good news. It is Valentine's Day, after all.

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Max Fisher · February 14, 2013