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The Global Wellness economy

In December 2021, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) released its new research report, The Global Wellness Economy: Looking Beyond COVID.1

This expansive report provided in-depth data and analysis for the wellness economy and its eleven sectors – including their size, performance, and growth trajectories – and it described how the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to impact these sectors. The report provided a new way to assess the wellness economy by giving sector-by-sector detail for each region around the world. The comprehensive data provided an insightful look into each wellness sector’s distribution across different regions, adding greater dimension and insight into the wellness economy. 

Wellness 2
Wellness 1

This companion report – The Global Wellness Economy: Country Rankings – provides an even greater understanding of the relative strengths of countries’ wellness sectors and policies. In this report, we present a summary analysis of the wellness economy at the regional level for six major regions, accompanied by a wellness economy data profile for each region. Using our newly expanded dataset, which breaks out all of the eleven wellness sectors by region and by country, we are now able to compare the size and composition of the wellness economy across different parts of the world. Specifically, we rank 150 countries by the size of their wellness economies, compare wellness to the size of each country’s overall economy, and examine per capita spending on wellness. Applying simple statistical analysis (depicted by scatterplot diagrams), we examine various country-level characteristics that have a strong correlation to higher levels of spending on wellness, including GDP, population size, per capita income, and level of tourism dependence.

This geographical comparative analysis allows us to examine several new questions including:

How is the global wellness economy distributed across the world? 

How do the size, growth, and composition of the wellness economy vary across different countries and regions, and what do those differences tell us?

How did the pandemic affect wellness spending across different countries and regions? 

What factors are associated with higher levels of wellness spending across different countries?

The answers to these questions give us a better understanding of how and why the wellness economy varies across different countries. They also indicate what further analysis would be helpful to enhance our knowledge about the rapidly evolving and expanding wellness economy and how it is connected to each country’s health and well-being. In the future, GWI aims to conduct statistical analysis to analyze these relationships, and to identify gaps where policy interventions may help to improve wellness-enhancing environments and access to wellness-related activities for peoples across all regions.
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. According to this definition, wellness is not a passive state, but rather an “active pursuit” that is associated with intentions, choices, and actions. Wellness also extends beyond physical health and incorporates many dimensions, including the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental dimensions.
The wellness economy encompasses industries that enable consumers to incorporate wellness activities and lifestyles into their daily lives. GWI last measured the size of the wellness economy for 2017 (released in the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor). Since then, many major shifts and disruptions have impacted the global wellness economy and its eleven sectors. In particular, the massive economic shock of COVID-19 made 2020 a watershed year that will forever divide history into “before” and “after” the pandemic.
We estimate that the global wellness economy grew from $4.3 trillion2 in 2017 to $4.9 trillion in 2019, or by 6.6% annually, a growth rate significantly higher than global economic growth (4.0%).3 In 2020, the wellness economy fell by 11.0%, to $4.4 trillion (while global GDP declined by 2.8%).

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