Are Zimbabweans truly miserable?
“I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.”
― C. S. Lewis
How does it feel to wake up in the morning of the first day of a new month to the news that your country has been ranked as the second most miserable country in the world? Well, that is the situation Zimbabweans find themselves on April Fool’s Day.
While many were shocked by the news, hoping it was one of those social media memes that would be called back, others believe it is a confirmation of what they already know. Either way, social media is buzzing with reactions to the news.
Steve Hanke, a renowned United States economist at John Hopkins University has released the current list of the World’s Most Miserable Countries.
In his report, he ranked Zimbabwe second on the list. Africa’s most populous black nation and the self-acclaimed giant of Africa, Nigeria was ranked the sixth most miserable country in the world.
He said the high rate of unemployment in the countries were the major contributor to the "misery". It appears he is right because the high rate of unemployment and under-employment in Africa is worrisome.
“In Zimbabwe, unemployment is the main concern with a projected rate of close to 80% for 2019. This number may be skewed depending on how unemployment is counted. Thailand is often near the very bottom of the list due in large part to their rather unorthodox way of counting employment as well as their low fertility rate and aging population. Much of Zimbabwe's population works in the "informal economy" which includes people working unpaid for a family business or paid employees who are not entitled to sick leave or paid holidays. These people are not counted as employed.”
The Misery Index is a yearly report published by John Hopkins University in Baltimore, United States. It is usually derived using economic indices, including unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates.
"The first Misery Index was constructed by an economist, Art Okun, in the 1960s as a way to provide President Lyndon Johnson of US with an easily digestible snapshot of the economy. That original Misery Index was just a simple sum of a nation's annual inflation rate and its unemployment rate.
"The index has been modified several times, first by Robert Barro of Harvard University and then by myself. My modified Misery Index is the sum of the unemployment, inflation and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita.
"Higher readings on the first three elements are bad and make people more miserable. These are offset by a good (GDP per capita growth), which is subtracted from the sum of the 'bads'. A higher Misery Index score reflects a higher level of misery, and it's a simple enough metric that a busy president, without time for extensive economic briefings, can understand at a glance.
"The accompanying table contains Misery Index rankings for the 95 nations that report relevant data on a timely basis. For consistency and comparability, and with few exceptions, data were retrieved from the Economist Intelligence Unit."
Header Image Credit: Daily Mail
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