Americans Are Less Satisfied With Their Freedom

by Caitlin Mahon

America — the land of the free and the home of the brave, right? Well, not everyone's so sure. Here's the rub— according to a Gallup poll, compared to seven years ago, there are fewer Americans today who report feeling satisfied with their "freedom to choose what they do with their lives." It's a 12 percent decline from 2006 when 91 percent reported satisfaction. Only 79 percent reported feeling satisfied in 2013. Plus, Americans reporting their dissatisfaction with said "freedom to choose what they do with their lives" increased from 9 percent to 21 percent in seven years, too.

Which really isn't all that shocking. Think about it... we're still bouncing back from the recession, the housing bubble popped, and the student loan bubble is likely next. Unemployment is still high for many Americans, too.

Each year, Gallup asks whether citizens in 120 or more countries are "satisfied or dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives." In each country, about 1,000 citizens who are 15 years of age or older were surveyed throughout the seven year period. Back in 2006, America was at the top of the list, reporting the highest ratings for satisfaction.

But now, our ranking of satisfaction compared to other countries has changed based on the new figures. We're now number 36, while countries like New Zealand (94 percent satisfied), Australia, and Cambodia (each are 93 percent satisfied), lead the way.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On the flip side, our numbers for satisfaction with our freedom hasn't decreased nearly as much as other countries like Egypt (34 percent decrease) and Greece (30 percent decrease), among others.

On a brighter note, Gallup says there are some indications that the attitudes of U.S. citizens regarding the economy are increasing compared to 2006. "Americans are feeling better about the national economy, spending habits in the U.S. have nearly recovered, and U.S. self-reported job creation has rebounded, if not improved," according to "Although unclear, the decline in perceived freedom could be more than just economics."

On the flip side, it's worth noting is how much our opinion of the government has changed since 2006. Back then, 56 percent of U.S. citizens said "corruption [was] widespread throughout the government," compared with 79 percent in 2013, which Gallup says would be contributing to how we perceive how free we are today. Plus, Gallup says the decline in our freedom could potentially be related to how slow our economy is recovering.