Africans are twice as optimistic as Europeans. According to a survey of 52,000 people around the world by Gallup International (reported in The Economist of 17 January), African people come top when asked if they expect this year to be better than last year. Asked to explain the apparent anomaly – after all, Africa is “poor” – Meril James, from Gallup, is quoted as stating that “there is usually very little relationship between the survey’s optimism rankings, and reality”. Nigerians, for example, are “usually upbeat whether their lot gets better or not”. Hmm: I’m not sure about that. Results also depend on how you define a person’s “lot”, and on what aspects of “reality” you choose to measure. For example, I’m pretty sure that that levels of household debt are somewhat lower in Nigeria than they are in London – but that levels of social solidarity are much higher. I next year’s survey, I would like Gallup to add the question: “Do you look forward to being old in this community?”.