In light of the recent publication of the “Misery Index“, named after its creator, Professor Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University, located in the city of Baltimore on the east coast of the United States. This index is calculated based on a combination of quantitative parameters such as unemployment rate, inflation, cost of bank loans, exchange rate, and real GDP per capita.
The country with the highest score is placed in the group of countries whose population lives in conditions of poverty. Conversely, a lower score indicates that it is in a situation opposed to misery, i.e., they are countries with a “happy” population.
The 2020 study, published a week ago, covered a total of 156 countries around the world, yielding data such as the most miserable country being Venezuela with 3,827.6, followed by Zimbabwe with 547 and Sudan with 193 points. Meanwhile, in the last position – the happiest country – is surprisingly Guyana in 156th place with -3.3, accompanied by Taiwan in 155th place with 3.8; in 154th place Qatar with 5.3 and Japan in 155th place with 8 points.
Misery index in Ibero-America
Now, within this framework of countries, how are Ibero-American societies positioned? One way to facilitate understanding of the Henke Misery Index is to segment the sample into three large blocks: countries with high levels of misery, countries in a state of average misery, and countries with low levels of misery.
According to the above distribution, we find that the two Iberian countries are in the middle group, Spain in 63rd place with 28.2 points and Portugal bordering the third group in 103rd place with 18 points. Meanwhile, the group of countries with the highest misery indices is basically shared by the vast majority of Ibero-American countries, a large majority of African, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and former USSR countries.
Among the Ibero-Americans in the group with a high misery index are: in addition to Venezuela, which holds the ignominious first place for the sixth consecutive year, there are: Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay. The intermediate group is Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, and Ecuador. Finally, in the last group, Cuba ranks 117th with only 15.8 points.
Although it is very important to note that the Cuban case evidently constitutes a great distortion, since it is neither a free nor a transparent society, since it is governed by a socialist regime, therefore, it is dominated by a hypertrophied bureaucratic apparatus where the bulk of the population works, who are earning salaries well below international standards, and at the same time, with a narrow margin for private initiative.
The interesting thing about this study is that it reveals very significant data such as the scandalous figure reached by Venezuela (6 times higher than historically depressed Zimbabwe), which powerfully reveals the abysmal and accelerated self-destructive process of both the Venezuelan economy and society as a consequence of the implementation of neo-communism, undoubtedly, perhaps the only country in recent world history to experience such a situation without suffering a war.
Finally, another notable deterioration can be found in Spain, which suffered a severe economic crisis between 2008 and 2014 during the government of the socialist José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero and the first three years of recovery managed by Mariano Rajoy of the center-right Popular Party, but, to the regret of the Spaniards, Rajoy’s efforts went down the drain with the legislature of the leftist coalition of Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias, the latter recently left Moncloa.
But beyond this subtle and weak governmental movement, the truth is that Spain is burdened by the resurgence of the economic crisis as a consequence of the mistakes of the economist Pedro Sanchez, aggravated today by the pandemic so that in crude Sanchez does not end up finding his way.
Nahem Reyes is a PhD in history from the Andrés Bello Catholix University and associate member of the American Studies Center of the Central University of Venezuela. // Nahem Reyes es doctor en Historia de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello y miembro asociado del Centro de Estudios de América de la Universidad Central de Venezuela.