Even if you’re miserable, you should be happy you’re not in Venezuela. León Markovitz of Dadaviz has graphed the Cato Institute’s World Misery Index for 108 countries. The index defines misery a lack of economic freedom: high inflation, unemployment and interest rates and low growth. To calculate the score, Cato’s Steve Hanke added a country’s inflation rate, unemployment rate and lending rate, and then subtracted year-on-year per capita GDP growth.
By this definition, the most miserable countries in the world at the end of 2014 were Venezuela, Argentina, Syria, Ukraine and Iran. Argentina and Ukraine particularly shot up in 2014, moving into the top five and displacing Sudan and Sao Tome and Prince. The five least miserable countries are Brunei, Switzerland, China, Taiwan and Japan. The U.S. ranks 95th, making it the 14th least miserable nation.
Misery is obviously very subjective, but research generally supports the idea that economic improvements are correlated with life satisfaction, at least up until a point. Countries that are experiencing fast growth and rising living standards also tend to report greater feelings of well-being.