When it comes to some world rankings, Botswana seems to have a jinx similar to the one that condemned the national football team, the Zebras, to position 101 in the FIFA rankings. The country does poorly in the World Happiness Report of the United Nations and in the Global Competitiveness Report was found wanting in terms of citizen-owned business. There is one more blemish on the country record: as a group, Batswana are not that loving.
Between 2006 and 2007, the Gallup Organisation, an international research-based consulting company with nearly 40 offices in more than 20 countries, visited 136 countries - Botswana among them - to study the state of love around the world. Respondents were asked: “Did you experience love for a lot of the day yesterday?” The findings of this survey represent the largest data set on this topic ever collected.
With its 999 respondents, Botswana scored 62 percent - alongside Angola’s - and was ranked 94th out of 136 countries. This was the lowest score in all of the Southern African Development Community. The survey was taken at a time that the state-sponsored janjaweed militia was wreaking havoc in present-day South Sudan but somehow Sudan managed to score higher than Botswana. However, the latter managed to score higher than Japan (59 percent), Singapore (58 percent) and Russia (50 percent). The latter is in a region where, in the words of a yesteryear hit song, there may be need for the residents to put a little a love in their hearts. The worst performers on the list (Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Armenia) are from that same region.
With 78 percent, Madagascar was SADC’s best performer and was followed by Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Sitting at the top of the world list is Philippines with 93 percent and in second place is Rwanda with 92 percent. At position 11, Nigerians are the second most loving Africans with 84 percent.
The survey found that across the world as a whole, the widowed and divorced are the least likely to experience love; married people feel more of it than singles; cohabiting couples get more love than married spouses; women get more love than men, particularly in the United States; young adults are among the least likely to experience love and that it gets better with age, ultimately peaking in the mid-30s or mid-40s in most countries before fading again into the twilight years.
Addressing the economics of love, Justin Wolfers, of the researchers noted: “Money is related to love. Those with more household income are slightly more likely to experience the feeling. Roughly speaking, doubling your income is associated with being about 4 percentage points more likely to be loved. Perhaps having more money makes it easier to find time for love.”
He likened love to a form of insurance, stating: “It involves bonds of reciprocity that provide support when we’re feeling down, when we’re sick and when times are tough. More broadly, love has the power to mitigate the free-rider and moral hazard problems associated with social (and private) insurance. Bailing out a bank might encourage executives to take bigger risks in the future, but helping loved ones down on their luck has fewer incentive problems because our loved ones typically care for us in return. Such mutually beneficial relationships make us all more resilient in times of crisis.
This is why the household remains one of the most powerful institutions for organising not just families but also our economic lives.”