Which are the Most Miserable Countries in the World?

Which are the Most Miserable Countries in the World?

by: Caitlyn Ng

"Money can't buy happiness."

This has been repeated many times, and jokes have even been made about it, such as how much better it is to cry in a Ferrari than on a motorcycle! As discovered by the late Arthur Okun, a distinguished American economist, 'misery', as it were, could actually be measured with direct links to inflation and unemployment. He developed the original misery index for the United States only, taking the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates to create it. This, he felt, could adequately tell us how miserable the people in a country were.

Fast forward to the late 2000s and you see Steve Hanke, a Johns Hopkins University economist, expand upon the original index in order to include other countries outside USA. For the updated version, he took the data for each country exclusively from the Economist Intelligence Unit and thus, it became the economic indicator which assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation will create economic and social costs for any country.

Taking a look at the global index, it's easy to see that for most people, their quality of life is important. Constituents prefer lower inflation rates, lower unemployment rates, lower lending rates, and higher GDP per capita. That sounds like a perfect country but in reality is near impossible to satisfy all qualities. Which is why on "The Best" list, you will still see the major contributing factors as to what makes the citizens a little upset (not as much misery as those on "The Worst" list of course!) along with the current rates.

Note: The misery index score is the sum of the unemployment rate, the lending rate, and the inflation rate (consumer prices; end-of-period) minus the percent change in real GDP per capita. Only countries where all four data series were available from the Economist Intelligence Unit were included in this index.

The Most Miserable Countries

Ranking (The Worst)

Country

Misery Index

Major Contributing Factor

Current Figures

1

Venezuela

79.4

Consumer Prices

56. 2%

2

Iran

61.6

Consumer Prices

39.3%

3

Serbia

44.8

Unemployment

20.8%

4

Argentina

43.1

Consumer Prices

44.0%

5

Jamaica

42.3

Interest Rate

10.6%

6

Egypt

38.1

Unemployment

11.9%

7

Spain

37.6

Unemployment

25.2%

8

South Africa

37.4

Unemployment

25.0%

9

Brazil

37.3

Interest Rate

29.7%

10

Greece

36.4

Unemployment

24.2%

The Least Miserable Countries

Ranking (The Best)

Country

Misery Index

Major Contributing Factor

Current Figures

1

Japan

5.41

Unemployment

3.6%

2

Taiwan

6.13

Unemployment

4.03%

3

Singapore

6.38

Interest Rate

3.2%

4

Republic of Korea

6.77

Interest Rate

4.4%

5

Thailand

6.83

Interest Rate

5.7%

6

Qatar

7.39

Interest Rate

0.9%

7

Malaysia

7.88

Interest Rate

4.0%

8

China

7.90

Real GDP Growth

7.8%

9

Panama

8.24

Interest Rate

2.2%

10

Norway

8.75

Unemployment

3.5%

Still think money doesn't buy happiness? How happy are you in Malaysia (since we're in the top ten for happy)?

* Caitlyn Ng is an Investigative Journalist of SaveMoney.my, an online consumer advice portal which aims to help Malaysians save money through smart (and most of the time painless) savings in their daily banking, technology, and lifestyle spending habits.

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