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Monday, April 23, 2012

“Hope” Matters in Education

By Shane J. Lopez, Gallup Senior Scientist
We launched the Gallup Student Poll in 2009 to measure the hope, engagement, and wellbeing of American students, grades 5-12. In the last three years, nearly one million students have completed the poll. Based on these data and independent research findings from around the world, Gallup now knows that hope predicts which students show up for school and how well they do. In a recent Gallup study of freshmen at a large high school in the Midwest, hopeful students completed more credits and had a better report card -- by almost a letter grade -- than less hopeful ones.

Hope is also a strong predictor of performance in college students. Most importantly, hope -- the sum total of ideas, energy, and excitement for goals -- makes students more likely to graduate. It seems that a psychological investment in the future pays off today. In my ongoing longitudinal study of college student retention, hope has proven to be a strong and unique predictor of a student receiving a college diploma.

Though many people may think hope is a “soft” measure, it turns out it’s the hardest and most accurate we have. For that reason, we have taken a close look at the patterns of responses to the hope items on the Gallup Student Poll. Turns out that only half of our students are hopeful. Those who aren’t still believe in the American Dream, starting with and finishing school, and then getting a good job, but they have no idea how to make it happen for themselves. They are certain they will graduate from school, but confess they don’t know how to get good grades. They are optimistic about landing a good job, but are uncertain about how to deal with the challenges inherent to doing so.

I blame us -- their parents and educators -- for not preparing them better. While we busily get our students ready for the next big test, including state measures of achievement and the ACT or SAT, we can lose sight of what really matters to our students -- the future. When we help students take a peek at a future that requires more education, they are more likely to act like good students today.

It’s not all bad news when it comes to the typical student’s outlook. The vast majority of American students believe that the future will be better than the present. But, at the same time, they lack the strategic thinking needed to overcome the many obstacles they will face between now and then; between their current life and their version of the American Dream.

We can help today’s young students to become more hopeful. We need to challenge every student to find at least one goal they are excited about, we need to teach them how to develop multiple pathways to achieve that goal, and then we need to help them overcome the obstacles they encounter until they can do it on their own. At the very least, we can create a community-wide discussion about our children’s futures by having students complete the Gallup Student Poll (at no cost) during the fall 2012 administration. Go to our website to find out how your school or district can start using the Gallup Student Poll to jump start the hope discussion in your community.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Global Findex: How People in 148 Economies Save, Borrow, Make Payments, and Manage Risk

By Krista Hoff, Doug Randall, and Leora Klapper

What percentage of adults in South Asia have a formal account compared to those in Latin America? What are the most common self-reported barriers to financial inclusion among women and rural residents worldwide? To what degree has mobile money reached the unbanked in sub-Saharan Africa?

In the past, the answers to these questions were incomplete, and the details unsatisfying. Researchers and policymakers were forced to rely on a patchwork of incompatible household surveys and aggregated central bank data for a comprehensive view of the global financial inclusion landscape.

With the release of the Global Financial Inclusion Indicators (Global Findex), we now have a comprehensive, individual-level, and publicly-available database that allows for comparisons across 148 economies of how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.

Today, the World Bank released the first round of the Global Findex database, based on more than 150,000 interviews carried out by Gallup in association with its 2011 global surveys.

With more than 40 indicators, each differentiable by gender, age, education, income, and rural or urban residence, one can easily get lost in the nuances. But here are a few key findings that will be discussed further at the first public event featuring the data -- taking place at Gallup on April 30 -- and in a series of articles on, beginning April 30:

  • 50% of adults worldwide have a formal account, ranging from 89% in high-income economies to 23% among those living on less than $2 per day
  • 22% of adults worldwide report having saved at a formal financial institution in the past 12 months
  • 16% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa report having used a mobile phone to pay bills or send or receive money in the past 12 months 
  • 11% of adults in developing economies have an outstanding loan for emergencies or healthcare needs, but more than 80% of them use only informal sources of credit
The Global Findex database will facilitate a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the financial behavior of adults worldwide. With the release of future rounds, the data can be used to evaluate the expansion of bank agents and mobile money, as well as the effects of other country-level financial inclusion reforms. 

Gallup and the World Bank will host their first public event to discuss the data on April 30 at Gallup. Dr. Asli Demirguc-Kunt and Dr. Leora Klapper, the authors of the Global Financial Inclusion report, along with Alexia Latortue, the Deputy Director of CGAP, will share their insights and findings from the data. Dr. Bob Tortora, Gallup’s Chief Methodologist, will also share details about how the data were collected.

The complete database, report, and survey are available at

Join the World Bank Wednesday, May 2, at 10 a.m. ET, for a one-hour live chat to discuss findings from "Measuring Financial Inclusion: The Global Findex Database."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gallup in the News

Major news outlets around the world cover Gallup's research and findings every day. Here are four must-read media mentions from March:

  • The New Globalist Is Homesick: Susan J. Matt, history professor at Weber State University, uses Gallup's global migration data in her The New York Times op-ed to show the large volume of people migrating in hopes of finding more profitable work. She goes on to argue that technology does not ameliorate the pervasive problem of homesickness for migrants.
  • Going to Church Linked With Better Mood, Study Finds: The Huffington Post reporter Amanda L. Chan discusses Gallup's finding that those who regularly go to a place of worship have higher wellbeing than those who do not regularly frequent a place of worship. She uses this finding to bolster the claim that religion can serve practical purposes.
  • Want to Unleash Your Child's Inner Strengths and Passions? Here's One Idea: In The Globe and Mail, Erin Anderssen writes that parents should help their children identify their strengths, so children can focus their time on activities that are a good fit for their innate abilities. She includes comments from Gallup Senior Scientist Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., who argues that it is beneficial for kids at any age to proactively understand what they do well, rather than be preoccupied with their weaknesses.
  • How to Kick Start the Economy: Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton tells Fox WGHP in Greensboro, N.C., that every local community needs a group of dedicated "tribe leaders" to create jobs and promote entrepreneurism. He argues that innovation alone is not enough to prevent brain drain.


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