The Worst Countries To Live In, According to the Misery Index

An empty supermarket in Venezuela. Editorial credit: Matyas Rehak /
An empty supermarket in Venezuela. Editorial credit: Matyas Rehak /

How do you decide whether a country is the worst to live in? The question is rather subjective, so, to help people gain insight into the living conditions of different countries, research studies have created an index of misery using a combination of real measurable data.

In the past couple of years, various interesting statistics pertaining to the living conditions in different countries have been created, including the increasingly popular "Misery Index". Viewing this index, it is obvious that factors such as unemployment, corruption, lack of economic freedom, runaway inflation and political stability all can contribute to making life more miserable for a nation’s citizens. Although there is no denying that subjectivity affect those deriving these qualitative metrics, the significance it holds around the world is quite interesting, nonetheless. The ten most miserable countries in the world to live in as of 2018 were: 

5. Ukraine

Coinciding with major conflicts with neighboring Russia’s over Crimea and other territories, Ukraine’s GDP fell by 6.8% in 2014 while both inflation and unemployment were in the double digits. All of these economic woes combined to help drive Ukraine’s bid as one of the most miserable countries in the world in 2014. Unfortunately, in 2018, Ukraine still finds itself on the list. Considering that the country had made a great comeback and significantly recovered from the global financial crisis before these border disputes, it’s a shame that economic issues and corruption drove its people’s welfare back down. Despite desires to achieve key economic reforms in the country, Ukraine has a long way to go in improving the quality of life of its citizens.

4. South Africa

As one of the members of BRICS, a group of top emerging economies in the world, and considered to be the leading economy on the African continent, seeing South Africa in the Misery Index comes as a bit of a shock. The reason why South Africa has been given a place among the most miserable countries in the world is because it has left its unemployment levels unchecked as they surge beyond control. Around a quarter of the citizens of South Africa fail to find jobs, a severely high unemployment rate that leaves much of the populace destitute. When you add pre-existing poverty and financial inequality to the equation, the country could be said to be bound for misery. On top of it all, the country’s economic troubles have also left it prone to high rates of violent crimes, including murder, car hijacking, and kidnapping.

3. Argentina

Known to be a sunny, vibrant country on the coast of the South Atlantic Ocean in South America, Argentina may seem like a surprising addition to this list. However, there are plenty of issues across the nation that have contributed to the misery of Argentine citizens. To begin with, inflation is extremely high in the country at a mind-boggling 36.4%. Next, the country’s economy has not managed to move forward for years, and it continues to grapple with a ballooning fiscal deficit. Crime rates are also known to be fairly high in Argentina, with drug-fueled violence leading the way. It is because of the combined effect of all these factors that Argentina has managed to score the third position in the list of the most miserable countries in the world.

2. Egypt 

Egypt approaches the top of the list of the most miserable countries in the world. This north African nation is still reeling from the crisis that it experienced in the early 2010s, which started with the Egyptian revolution in 2011. Since then, the country has seen its president overthrown, experienced a coup d'état, and elected a new leader, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has been accused of only making things worse. It's a lot for one decade for one country.

It is estimated that 800 people have been killed via death sentencing since 2013. The current government has been accused of shutting down non-governmental organizations and banning free speech. It is not unusual for certain websites to be blocked in the country. Currently, high unemployment rates and staggering rates of poverty are major problems in Egyptian society. 

1. Venezuela

The most prominent factor driving another South American country, Venezuela, to the very top of the list of most miserable countries is its high consumer price inflation, which was recorded as having reached an astounding 62.2% in 2014. With oil prices experiencing a free fall in Venezuela, it is no surprise that its petroleum-driven economy faced extreme swings in temperament. In fact, inflation here increased to the point that an iPhone became worth nearly $50,000! Aside from luxury items, everyday necessities have also gone up to reach unsustainable levels. Such aspects inherent to the shattered economy continue to perpetuate the distress of the citizens of Venezuela. 

Since 2014, approximately 3 million Venezuelans have left their country behind in search of greener pastures. Those who are not fortunate enough to leave are faced with empty grocery store and pharmacy shelves and unliveable wages. Previously, Venezuela used to be a relatively rich country within South America. However, sadly, at the present time, they are going through their worst crisis in history. 


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