Study: Israel Among World’s Least ‘Miserable’ Countries

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Azrieli buildings in Tel Aviv, as seen over the Ayalon Highway and River at night. (Esther Rubyan/Flash 90)

What do you get when you put together inflation and unemployment? Misery, according to U.S. business publication Bloomberg, and of the top 65 economies in the world surveyed this year for the news source’s 2017 Misery Index, Israel’s rates as among the least miserable in the wold.

Coming in 57th, slightly more miserable than South Korea and a bit less than Denmark and Taiwan, Israel scored 5.6 on the scale, and the country improved its ranking from 2016, when it was 54th out of 65 on the list.

First created at Harvard in 1999, the current MI takes the sum of the interest, inflation and unemployment rates, subtracted from the year-over-year percent change in per capita GDP growth. With growth strong – among the strongest in the world for 2016 – and inflation near zero, it is unemployment that concerns Israelis most, although that figure, too, is at a historic low.

Not all economists consider the MI a good indicator of actual misery among the populace, however; Japan, which has for years unsuccessfully struggled to defeat deflation and improve its sluggish growth rate, ranks 57th on the index, three places from the least miserable countries, including Switzerland, Singapore, and Thailand, all of which have strong growth rates. The most miserable country by far is Venezuela, with a projected MI for 2017 of 499.7, mostly due to the hyperinflation that besets the country. Using an indicator of inflation, Bloomberg estimated that prices have risen in the country by 1,419 percent since August (Venezuela has not reported economic statistics since 2015). The United States ranked at 49th, while the U.K. came in 44th. Concern over unemployment was the key reason for concern in both those countries.