A new Gallup poll shows that the percentage of Americans who are satisfied that they have the freedom to choose what they do with their lives has dropped from 91 percent in 2006 to 79 percent in 2013. The percentage of those who are dissatisfied with that freedom has doubled from 9 percent to 21 percent.
Of the 120 countries in which Gallup regularly polls people on whether they are satisfied with the freedom to choose what to do in life, the U.S. once ranked among the highest in the world. Now, the top slots are claimed by New Zealand (94 percent satisfied), Australia (93 percent) and Cambodia (93 percent), with the U.S. coming in 36th.
Just 10 countries, including Spain, Pakistan and Yemen suffered a decline in satisfaction as large or larger than the U.S. in that period. Egypt and Greece saw the largest drop with 34 and 30 percentage points, respectively.
Gallup suggests the decline in perceived freedom could be related to the continued sluggish rebound of the U.S. economy. They also suggest it might be an increasing belief that there is widespread corruption throughout the government. In 2006, 56 percent of people said there was widespread corruption. Now, 79 percent say they believe that.
The poll is based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in each country aged 15 and older, conducted between 2006 and 2013. The margin of sampling error ranged from +/-1.7 percentage points to +/-5.8 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.