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 2014-2015 were:
10. 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 leave much of the populace destitute. When you add pre-existing poverty and financial inequality to the equation, the country could 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.
Jamaica is also one of the top ten most miserable countries in the world because of its high unemployment rates. However, unemployment isn’t the only factor that has contributed to its status – unabated corruption and out of control crime rates are part of the mix too. Inflation happens to be rather high in Jamaica, and the government has long been struggling to deal with the high unemployment levels that have perpetuated high crime levels. The government’s failure to tackle this situation is what eventually led to the country being considered one of the most miserable countries in the world. Although the country is known for its idyllic beach fronts and has a vibrant tourism industry, the reality of life for the majority of the citizens of this country is quite different from this idyllic vision. As of April 2015, the unemployment rate in Jamaica was 13.2%, with youth unemployment rate being at an all-time high at 38%. Unfortunately, with the country’s slow rates of ongoing economic development, life isn’t likely to improve for the country’s citizens in the immediate future.
Serbia has long been dealing with economic challenges, many of which it has not been able to curb even today. The factor that contributed the most to Serbia’s listing as one of the most miserable countries in the world is that of its ever-increasing unemployment. Unemployment averaged 19.36% during the 2008-2015 time period, including the reaching of an all-time high of 25.50% in 2012. Within the the present year, it has decreased to about 17.90 percent in the second quarter from 19.20% in the first quarter. Apart from unemployment, factors placing the country at number 8 on this list are increased government debt, high government expenditures, an inability to attract foreign investors, and extensive corruption. If things keep going this way, there isn’t much hope of economic betterment for Serbia.
7. Sao Tome and Principe
For having such a small area, there aren’t many countries in the world whose citizens can claim to be quite as miserable as those of Sao Tome and Principe. In fact, life in this country in 2014 was far worse than in over a hundred other countries in the world. The major factor that brought the country to this condition was that of the high interest rates that prevail there. It is because of this rates that loans and investments are difficult to make, so economic opportunities to individuals are somewhat restricted as are, subsequently, personal and financial rewards However, things are expected to get better for the citizens of this African country, as investments in the development of its oil industry, especially in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea, continue to grow. The country’s GDP rose from 4.0% in 2013 to 4.9% in 2014.
It may come as a shock that Brazil is part of this list, considering it hosted one of the happiest and most popular sporting events in the world in 2014: the FIFA World Cup. The country’s misery index was considerably influenced by its high crime rates and increasing poverty levels. To make matters worse, the country also deals with overwhelming levels of inflation, unemployment and high interest rates – all factors amplifying the country’s problems to the point that only five other countries were more miserable than it at the end of the year 2014. However, although Brazil holds a high position in the miserable countries list, it managed to be less miserable than two of its South American counterparts. Unfortunately, with Brazilians’ incomes decreasing by half since 2012, the country’s economy is not expected to stabilize for several years to come.
Iran has been long known for humanitarian and diplomatic controversies, garnering international attention for all the wrong reasons. This is perhaps one of the major reasons why the country has also experienced high inflation and unemployment levels for years, and 2014 was no exception as its sour relationships with other global economic powerhouses didn’t seem to improve all that much. Unemployment is also fairly high in the country, which is a major internal factor helping to place Iran as number five in the list of most miserable countries in the world. The country has relatively large population of youth and young adults, which is why trends in unemployment, which currently stands at 11.67%, is made an even greater concern for the citizens of Iran as they look to the future. Over the next four years, inflation is expected to remain high in the country, which, along with unemployment and lending rate projections, leads us to believe that the country will remain one of the most miserable countries in the world for the next few years.
Coiinciding 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. 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.
Syria approaches the top of the list of most miserable countries in the world, and for good reason. The country is plagued by high unemployment rates and equally discouraging inflation rates. While it is not uncommon for any country to suffer from unemployment, the unemployment rate is so high in Syria that it is almost incomparable in relation to that of other countries. In fact, the 2014 unemployment rate stood at 33%, while inflation reached an equally worrisome 34.8%. The citizens of Syria were in fact more concerned over inflation and rising unemployment than they were over the political turmoil that the country has continues to suffer. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have left their homes in recent years, moving abroad in search of employment opportunities in other countries in the wake of the Syrian Civil War. With no end in sight to conflict in the country, the picture remains grim for the economic prospects of Syria.
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 second position in the list of the most miserable countries in the world.
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! Such aspects inherent to the shattered economy continue to perpetuate the distress of the citizens of Venezuela. Despite where they may stand now, there is still hope that the country will be able to turn things around, to some degree at least, by the time our next list of miserable countries is released.