NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether or not money can buy happiness, people worldwide seem to think it can, at least according to a new poll that canvassed respondents in two dozen countries.
Nearly two-thirds of about 20,000 people surveyed said they "need to live better," the survey by market research company Ipsos showed, while one-third said their life was fine the way it was.
Given a list of factors for improving their well-being and quality of life, 89 percent said a stronger economy in their country was very or somewhat important -- the top response.
Better living conditions and stronger family relationships were named by 84 percent, while only 56 percent listed finding a romantic partner, and 49 percent included meditation or prayer.
Lifestyle factors such as eating better, sleeping or exercising more and finding new challenges also placed high.
Responses from nations as far-flung as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Sweden, Germany, South Africa, Hungary, Japan and Mexico varied widely, according to the poll.
Hungarians were mostly likely to say they needed to live better, with 89 percent agreeing, and second-most likely to say this was harder to do than ever before.
Saudi Arabians were the most likely to say their lives were fine as they were, followed by those from India and Sweden.
"These sentiments are inseparable from their crushed economy," said Keren Gottfried, research manager for Ipsos Global Public Affairs, which conducted the poll on behalf of Reuters News, referring to Hungary.
"We know from our economic confidence polling that these days only three percent in Hungary say their national economic is good. On the flip side, economic juggernaut Saudi Arabia is least likely to think they need to live better," Gottfried said.
"They also consistently have the highest economic confidence scores," she added.
And despite the popular perceptions of the French quality of life -- ample social services, great food, generous, federally mandated annual leave -- the French were the most likely to say that living better is now more difficult than ever.
While nearly three-quarters worldwide agreed that living better requires a plan, more than two-thirds of the French felt that living better is not something that can be planned.
Belgians were next, but far behind, with only 49 percent agreeing, while Indonesians were the strongest believers in the power of planning for a better life. Almost 95 percent said this was essential, followed by South Africa at 92 percent, South Korea with 90 percent and Hungary and Sweden, both with 87 percent.
"The planners come from all sorts of countries, economically strong and weak alike," Gottfried noted.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney