World's 'most miserable countries' revealed - here's where New Zealand ranks

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New Zealand has jumped up the annual 'misery' index to be almost inside the top 100 most miserable countries.

Hanke's Annual Misery Index (HAMI) was released on Tuesday showing New Zealand had gone from 151st last year out of 156 countries listed, to 104th out of 157 countries. The bank lending rate was blamed as the major contributing factor.

New Zealand is ranked as being more miserable than countries including Belgium, Canada, Mexico, France, Papua New Guinea, United Kingdom, Fiji, Germany, and our trans-Tasman neighbours Australia.

Zimbabwe takes the prize as the most miserable country in the world due to soaring inflation, while at the other end of the scale, Switzerland just edged Kuwait and Ireland as the happiest country.

Steve Hanke, who is a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, compiles the annual HAMI.

The HAMI is the sum of the unemployment rate multiplied by two, inflation, and bank-lending rates, minus the annual percentage change in real GDP per capita.

Higher readings on the first three elements are "bad" and make people more miserable. These "bads" are offset by a "good" (real GDP per capita growth), which is subtracted from the sum of the bads to yield a HAMI score.

Hanke put Zimbabwe's plight down to an ongoing inflation crisis since the reign of former dictator Robert Mugabe.

"Zimbabwe has suffered endemic inflation since the Mugabe era, including two episodes of hyperinflation, in which the inflation rate (a component of the HAMI), exceeded 50 percent per month for 30 or more days," Hanke said.

"Last year didn't deliver much better, with annual inflation at 243.8 percent, and lending rates following suit at 131.8 percent."

Top 10 'miserable' countries:

  1. Zimbabwe
  2. Venezuela
  3. Syria
  4. Lebanon
  5. Sudan
  6. Argentina
  7. Yemen
  8. Ukraine
  9. Cuba
  10. Turkey.

Top 10 'happiest' countries:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Kuwait
  3. Ireland
  4. Japan
  5. Malaysia
  6. Taiwan
  7. Niger
  8. Thailand
  9. Togo
  10. Malta.