How we did this

From analyzing people’s answers, it is clear that one source of meaning is predominant: family. In 14 of the 17 advanced economies surveyed, more mention their family as a source of meaning in their lives than any other factor. Highlighting their relationships with parents, siblings, children and grandchildren, people frequently mention quality time spent with their kinfolk, the pride they get from the accomplishments of their relatives and even the desire to live a life that leaves an improved world for their offspring. In Australia, New Zealand, Greece and the United States, around half or more say their family is something that makes their lives fulfilling.

Publics are also largely united in the relative emphasis placed on careers and occupations. Jobs are one of the top three sources of meaning for people in most places surveyed. Still, the emphasis placed on them can vary widely, from a high of 43% in Italy to a low of 6% in South Korea. And although in Italy as many cite their occupation as cite their family as a source of meaning, in places like the U.S., only around a third as many cite their careers. While some specifically describe their careers and what is meaningful about them – e.g., a cybersecurity worker who enjoys seeing his contributions in practice or a teacher who enjoys helping to inform children about history – others more generically mention enjoying their work or their colleagues or feeling intellectually challenged.

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