The conservative National Review is out with its latest “Hanke’s Annual Misery Index” (HAMI) which purports to chart which countries are the most miserable based on unemployment rates, inflation, and interest rates. The top 10 contenders are largely unsurprising, though a few nations appear out of place.
The 10 Most “Miserable” Countries In The World
First, let’s look at the methodology. Here is how Steve Hanke (founder and co-director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University) describes his methodology:
The human condition lies on a vast spectrum between “miserable” and “happy.” In the economic sphere, misery tends to flow from high inflation, steep borrowing costs, and unemployment. The surefire way to mitigate that misery is through economic growth. Comparing countries’ metrics can tell us a lot about where in the world people are sad or happy. HAMI gives us the answers. My version of the misery index is the sum of the year-end unemployment, inflation, and bank-lending rates, minus the annual percentage change in real GDP per capita. Higher readings on the first three elements are “bad” and make people more miserable. These “bads” are offset by a “good” (real GDP per capita growth), which is subtracted from the sum of the bads to yield a HAMI score
This year, the top-10 list includes some expected nations but also at least three that surprised me:
(you can review the entire list here)
I understand the hyperinflation and unemployment in Zimbabwe and Venezuela. I understand that Lebanon is approaching a failed state status and Syria is still recovering from its long civil war. Sudan, of course, is facing a civil war of its own between military factions and Yemen has been embroiled in a nasty civil war for years.
But Argentina at #6? Ukraine? Turkey?
Surely, the inflation is bad in Argentina. Quality of life has been greatly eroded due to corruption, mismanagement, and reckless deficit spending. The same is true in Turkey. As for Ukraine, the war has ravaged the economy and created a whole host of issues rooted around survival, not economic growth.
But the enigma to me is that the quality of life in these places, even in war-torn Ukraine as I observed first-hand earlier this year, is not bad for most folks. Compare that to some of the countries like Togo and Benin I’ve visited in Central Africa which did not make list but from which I viewed a massive deficit of economic opportunity and a glaring amount of dire poverty (and even desperation) and I just have to wonder how helpful these lists actually are.
By the way, Switzerland is at the bottom of the list (just below Kuwait and Ireland) and the USA falls at #134.
An annual list of the world’s most miserable countries includes Turkey, Ukraine, and Argentina in the top-10. I’m not certain that is reasonable, even considering inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. I guess the point I’m getting at is that while wealth does not directly equate to happiness, I find it hard to believe that a country as (relatively) prosperous as Turkey could really be that miserable. I don’t see people starving in the street there…
What makes a country miserable?
I have seen stupid rankings in my life, but that one is in the first place of the ranking.
Togo and Ivory Coast are doing better than Norway and South Korea…
I’d say that you most likely witnessed firsthand a small and unrepresentative proportion of Ukraine when Kyiv was in one of its more stable states – I’d imagine Ukraine would be a more miserable place to be on average.
This is valuable information for those who pray, as it helps us direct our prayers (and the ways we channel His answers to prayer, i.e. through donations, etc.) .
76.5 million Turks live below the poverty line. This is a staggering number.
This list is racist. Zimbabwe should NOT be on that list. After all, they were able to overthrow their white Rhodesian colonialist oppressors by valiantly attacking their imperialist farms and schools. The great liberator, Robert Mugabe, knew that he could bring prosperity with enlightened Socialism. Now everyone in Zimbabwe is a trillionaire! Of course, some black lives matter more than others, which is why the great Mugabe was a Zillionaire at the time of his death. Why then should the POCs of Zimbabwe be unhappy? They have trillions of dollars AND liberated white farms from which they can create even more wealth.
As you rightly point out, the main problem with the methodology is that it suggests that positive material economic conditions= happiness.
The list is therefore pretty much just a ranking of which countries have been able to successfully implement neoliberal economics…and not only that, the “index” seems to look only at a very limited number of specific, cherry-picked single-year macroeconomic inputs. Pretty much useless.
Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine on a platform to address the two main issues making Ukrainians miserable: high corruption and the war in Donbas (at the time.) It’s at least progress to address the issues even if administration change happens. What’s frustrating for me, personally, living in the states is that the core issues that matter to me and I believe a sizable percentage of the population aren’t even on the radar in most political debates. It’s why i’m an independent at this point and likely will abstain from voting in the next presidential election for the first time in 40 years.
It’s no coincidence that the happiest nations have also low corruption indexes. The USA historically, IMO, was a magnet for immigrants not seeking political freedom but rather to escape highly corrupt/war-torn societies for the most part and sadly, sometimes they bring that along with them.
The interesting thing about travel is the old joke “A great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” For example, Matt’s trip to Kenya.
I’m a bit surprised Afghanistan didn’t make the top 10.
I agree that this index is a load of rubbish, but it is important to remember that opportunity cost doesn’t really cause anyone to become miserable. More than material conditions or indeed virtually anything else, one’s frame of reference is a huge factor when it comes to sense-making.
A practical example of what I am saying above could be given through a comparison between two countries that I have visited over the last year: Greece lost something like a quarter of its GDP around the middle of the last decade. Even if things have more or less stabilised over the past 4-5 years, it’s a much less happy place than Mozambique which has always been a lot poorer but is seeing the standard of living improve for many of its citizens.
Ukraine has been always one of the poorest countries in Europe. Even before the war, political situation was messy so nobody wanted to invest on the country. Industries and infrastructures are dated and basically the only real resource is farming. Oligarchs own all the country richness and have direct influence on politics . Life conditions are miserable except in some big cities where they seem a little better. A lot of ukranians work abroad as contruction workers, maids or eldery assistants because local salaries are the lowest in Europe. War has worsen all.
Sad. But possibly true 🙁
I’ll just say I see as much value in this list as I do in rankings that claim to rank airlines by safety.
In other words despite carefully chosen and worthy metrics the end is utter nonsense.
Many of the least developed countries, such as those you list in Africa, would not be well represented in his methodology. Those who live in rural villages subsistence farming are mostly unaffected by inflation and are completely removed from borrowing costs and GDP growth (or lack thereof). Even in cities most working poor around the world have no access to credit regardless of borrowing costs so that metric really only impacts the middle-class and above. If there were a way to measure inflation (particularly in regards to food costs) against the real (no government listed) minimum wage that would be much more helpful.
A quick glance proves conclusively that the list is grossly inaccurate: neither Haiti nor North Korea are on it, for example.
I have a suspicion that Skytrax was involved with these ratings.
I have a suspicion that white people were involved with these ratings.
Myanmar (Burma) is 39th. This is a country has remained under a military junta almost forever. I have tried to enter for 20 years, legal, working with the consulate. Known for human rights violations they remain dedicated in keeping anyone from witnessing anything other than tourist paths some citizens of other countries are allowed. Sadly, in some ways it remains a time capsule of beauty.
Funny that the “conservative” national review lists unemployment as the contributing factor for the US when unemployment is the lowest its been in decades. The real contributing factor should have been mass shootings by republican extremists
Someone with an IQ as low a yours probably can’t see reality. Not surprised.
Can’t dispute the message so attack the messenger. Typical republican
What’s amusing is that the author identified National Review as “conservative” whereas when other publications that are referenced (and most all are liberal), they aren’t identified as such. Most writers never state the “liberal New York Times”, or the “liberal ABC News, NBC News, etc.”.
By the way, liberals or leftists are always shown to be less happy in the US than are conservatives, and by a wide margin. Makes one go “hmmm…..”.
Happy to stipulate the NYT is very liberal not just in its editorial but its choice of news to cover.
No need… national review calls themselves “Conservative news & opinion”
In other words… conservative drivel. We all know that truth has a liberal bias
Any such list that does not start with NorthKorea is DOA. And surely Afghanistan also belongs in Too 10
What a relief to find Sierra Leone and Eritrea aren’t on the list. I’ve been thinking about relocating and those are on the top of my list.
Seriously, these lists are somewhat fun to look at but it’s like asking what the top 10 rock songs of all time are. It depends on who you ask and how you measure it.
Based on this list and some comments, I think it just shows there are a lot more than just 10 countries most people would not want to live in. Also if you are familiar with a country you often know where you can go safely and where you cannot go.
@Matthew which of these 10 have you been to? Turkey, Argentina, Lebanon and Ukraine I know. Any others?
Socialism leads to ruin.
Now go drive on the government built roads to collect your social security check
He can do that because the US isn’t socialist
But right wingers can’t tell the difference between Venezuela and N. Korea socialism and Sweden and France socialism. And when Democrats suggest something that even a pro business country like Germany would consider too weak for them, the right wingers claim the Democrats are sending us to Venezuela.
Ukraine but not Russia?They collapsed some 30 years ago and are heading in that direction again.Only this time as a pariah of the developed world ,with the humiliation of the once believed invincible army,unable to “fight their way out of a paper bag”.
It’s not surprising that Turkey is in top 10. People other than Turkish have no idea what ‘Turkish’ people going through in Turkey, particularly in recent years. People are not happy, they used to be…
So why is Erdogan poised to win again?
Yes Turkey is miserable for terrorists like Isis, PKK and their dudes, even should sit to Number one. Strongly recommend you to visit and see how life is going on just like around 50 million tourists mainly from Europe and Russia do.
I’m already a frequent visitor, hence my comments in the article.
Ome thing FOR sure..this helps People where they reside Oiw to thank God that they LIVED WHERE THEY ARE NOW..
It’s so bad for people who live in miserable countries
In Ghana we need money but we are not miserable. We are not poor but people have mismanaged our economy. Come and see how some Africans come over the weekends just to enjoy and go back. Some foreign nationals come and invest and stay here because Ghana is relatively a peaceful country. Anytime I travel outside Ghana, I start feeling homesick after two days. God bless our homeland Ghana and make great and strong.
The list is OK it’s just a list. But real people happiness is impossible to calculate as we know it’s not always about materialism that brings happiness.
I’ve seen many politically driven ranking but this one right here reeks with utterly pathetic political agenda!!
There is 1 in 30 American children experience homelessness. 51% of them are under the age of five years old. I didn’t even mention the millions of homless adults and drug abuse of the USA alone. It’s 2023 you know?
Glad you mentioned countries affected by the USA and NATO’s direct and indirect touch of death like in Yemen where the US doesn’t feel quite happy lossing $200 million a month from Saudi weapons deal creating the worlds biggest humanitarian crisis.. This war streched for 7 years thanks to US capitalism..
I mean Turkey? Are you sane?
Impossible! Cuba has free healthcare and 100% literacy! Utopia!
Canada should be number one then
Western countries are doctoring this stupid ranking to sway the election results.
There two main criteria to assess the misery among people.
1- homelessness ratio
2 suiciding ratio
When considering these figures, Turkiye comes lastest.
Egypt under cub role is definitely on the top of the list . 60% of population are considered to be under poor line by UN standards. People are taken to jail and disappear with out court order. Judgment system is controlled by government. You can’t even take a picture in Egypt.
“Wittgenstein’s ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler’s reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the ruler.”
– N. N. Taleb in “Fooled by Randomness”
Isn’t Bhutan a country?
They use GDH (Happiness) instead of GDP.
And a lovely one at that.
As a Turkish person, I can confirm that we are miserable. Some people managed to immigrate to other countries and many others are still looking into ways to leave the country.
Why do people continue to keep Edrogan in power?
Uganda should be on this list due to their newly enacted “Kill the Gays” law.