SA the second most miserable nation

2014-09-07 15:00

We are miseries. In fact, we are so miserable that there is only one nation in this world more miserable than us.

The Misery Index, created by economist Arthur Okun, indicates that only Venezuelans are worse off than we are.

This is one of many pieces of research that try to put a number on our relative happiness.

The Misery Index’s main premise is that if we cannot find a job and if it is becoming increasingly expensive to live, then there is not that much to be happy about.

Measuring unemployment and inflation rates is not necessarily an accurate measurement of our despair, but it is no better or worse than others.

The most recent Prosperity Index, for example, which claims to measure both economy and wellbeing, lists Chad as the worst off, with the Central African Republic not far behind. South Africa is ranked as the 77th least prosperous on this list. Norway is the most prosperous.

The Happy Planet Index, which includes things like longevity and country efficiency, lists Costa Rica as the happiest place on earth. It also ranks Chad last, and South Africa is pretty close to the bottom.

A major flaw in the Misery Index is that countries whose unemployment or inflation numbers were absent or dated weren’t measured, so we look a lot worse than we probably are.

Using estimates, Zimbabwe’s misery index is 103.5%, which would beat Venezuela and South Africa hands down. Burkina Faso, Syria, Turkmenistan and Djibouti would also push South Africa up a few places.

According to the list, Venezuela is the most miserable place on earth – scoring 59.8% on the index.

Business Insider, which published the list this week, blamed the state of the country on Hugo Chávez, whose nationalisation policies “hurt the private investment environment, reduced productive capacity and slowed non-petroleum exports”.

Business Insider partly blamed the electricity crisis, budget deficits and HIV/Aids for South Africa ranking second.

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