Cambodia ranked third worst in “global suffering” last year—behind Bulgaria and Armenia—a significant increase from 2011, when it ranked 14th worst, ac-cording to the worldwide polling group Gallup.
A poll released last week on Gallup’s website says 34 percent of Cambodian respondents rated their lives as poor enough to be considered suffering in 2012. In 2011, that number was at 26 percent.
The ranking places Cambodia third from the bottom of a list of 143 countries polled last year. In 2011, 146 countries were polled. Gallup says it interviewed about 1,000 people aged 15 and older in each country via telephone and face-to-face.
Regionally, 2 percent of Thais responded that they were suffering, as did 4 percent of Singaporeans, 5 percent of Indonesians, 7 percent of Laotians and 9 percent of Vietnamese.
Gallup classifies respondents as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” based on how they rate their current and future lives on a scale from zero to 10, the company states on its website. It considers people to be suffering if they rate their current lives a four or lower and their lives in five years a four or lower. The respondents do not use the term suffering to describe themselves.
It is unclear what criteria Gallup used to poll individuals, and a request for comment to Gallup on Tuesday was not returned.
But the organization does list implications, saying the measurements of well-being are related to income, education levels and reported disease conditions.
“Individuals who are thriving have fewer disease conditions, fewer sick days, and higher incomes; are more highly educated; and have better work environments. Residents in countries with higher percentages of thriving respondents also report that the area they live in is a good place to live for people of different ethnicities, races and cultures. Compared with thriving respondents, struggling respondents are much more likely to worry about money on a daily basis, and suffering respondents are less likely to have necessities such as food and shelter,” Gallup says on its website.
Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, said that as Cambodians continue to face hardships such as land-grabbing, poverty, lack of education and work migration, suffering could become worse.
“It’s quite significant that it has been ranked so low worldwide. This should be another indication to the Cambodian government that the situation is not good at all despite their claims of continuous growth and development,” she said.
The three countries where respondents said they suffered the least were Iceland, Qatar and Sweden.