Economist Steve Hanke’s Annual Misery Index has thrown up some surprises. According to the index, which ranks nations mainly on economic factors, Zimbabwe beat war-torn nations like Ukraine, Syria, and Sudan to grab the top spot as the most miserable country in the world.
The countries that follow the African nation in the top 10 spots are Venezuela, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Argentina, Yemen, Ukraine, Cuba, and Turkey, in that order. Only one South Asian nation figured among the top 15 — Sri Lanka at the 11th spot, with the major culprit being inflation. India’s rank is 103.
The factors considered to rank the countries are unemployment, inflation, bank lending rates, and real GDP per capita growth, which together lead to a misery index score. Eleven of the top 15 countries have inflation as the major contributing factor, while four have unemployment as the reason.
Zimbabwe, for instance, recorded inflation at 243.8 per cent last year. Venezuela beat it on that count, recording 266.9 per cent.
Thanks to stunning inflation, high unemployment, high lending rates, and anemic real GDP growth, Zimbabwe clocks in as the WORLD'S MOST MISERABLE COUNTRY in the Hanke 2022 Annual Misery Index. Need I say more? pic.twitter.com/0uhfnWQUyW
— Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) May 21, 2023
“’Thanks to stunning inflation, high unemployment, high lending rates, and anemic real GDP growth, Zimbabwe clocks in as the WORLD’S MOST MISERABLE COUNTRY in the Hanke 2022 Annual Misery Index. Need I say more?” Steve Hanke tweeted.
He wrote that “Venezuelans can thank Pres. Maduro’s monetary mismanagement” for their misery. “To reduce misery, Venezuela should adopt a currency board,” he tweeted.
The least miserable countries
According to New York Post, 157 countries were analysed for the rankings. Switzerland had the lowest score, meaning it is the least miserable country. Hanke, professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins University, credited the low debt-to-GDP ratio for the nation’s success.
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The second least miserable country was Kuwait, followed by Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Niger, Thailand, Togo, and Malta among the 10 happiest nations in the world.
The US was placed 134th on the list, with unemployment playing spoilsport. Finland, which has been placed first by the World Happiness Report for six consecutive years, ranked 109th on the misery index.
Where South Asia stands
India came a little behind Finland, ranking 103rd on the list. Like the US, unemployment is its leading cause of misery, according to the index.
Pakistan was placed 35th, with inflation identified as the primary contributing factor to its misery. Myanmar was slightly ahead of Pakistan, at 39, while Nepal was placed 63rd. Bangladesh was placed better than India at 115th position.
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The indexes are the sum of unemployment (multiplied by two), inflation, and bank lending rates, minus the annual percentage change in real GDP per capita.
(With agency inputs)