It’s hard to make a living when you can’t find a job, but prices keep climbing and climbing.
That’s the main idea behind economist Arthur Okun’s “Misery Index.” The index is determined by adding together a country’s current unemployment rate and its current rate of inflation. The higher the sum, the theory goes, the more “miserable” a country is.
It’s not a perfect measure. The index relies on accurate and up-to-date statistics, which not all countries provide. And critics have pointed to studies that show unemployment has a bigger affect on happiness (or unhappiness) than inflation does.
But few would argue that the combination of high unemployment and high inflation is ideal for people who are just trying to get by.
In light of that, Business Insider compiled a list of the 14 countries with the highest misery indices, using 2016 data for unemployment and inflation from the World Bank. Some countries have both high unemployment and inflation, while others experience one factor more so than the other.
The World Bank did not have recent or complete statistics available for a handful of countries, including North Korea, Syria, Libya, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Argentina. While some of these countries have high inflation, high unemployment, or both — the missing data prevented us from including them on the list.
Misery Index: 25.8%
CPI inflation: 13.8%
Egypt’s economy has been struggling since 2011, when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Its tourism industry — traditionally a major source of hard currency — has been hit particularly hardin recent years.
Misery Index: 26.5%
CPI inflation: -0.2%
Macedonia has taken huge steps forward since gaining independence in 1991, but corruption and weak rule of law continue to challenge economic development in the country.
Misery Index: 27%
CPI inflation: 13.8%
Haiti’s economy started to recover in 2015 following the devastating earthquake a few years earlier. But it has been hampered recently by drought conditions and political uncertainty. Nearly 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line.
Misery Index: 28.4%
CPI inflation: 21.7%
Malawi is one of the most densely populated, but least developed countries in the world. Its economy runs mostly on agriculture, with corn being its main crop. The country was hit hard by the El Niño-related drought in 2015-2016.
Misery Index: 31.1%
CPI inflation: 17.8%
Sudan has struggled since 2011 when South Sudan seceded, resulting in Sudan losing most of its revenues from oil. Since then, Sudan has seen inflation spike.
9. South Africa
Misery Index: 32.2%
CPI inflation: 6.3%
South Africa has struggled with sluggish economic growth for some time, but its high unemployment rate is particularly noteworthy. The official rate has hovered around 25% for several years, while the youth unemployment rate has been suck at an even higher figure.
Misery Index: 32.3%
CPI inflation: 6.7%
Namibia’s economy runs on extracting and processing minerals. Although some poverty in the country has been reduced thanks to political stability and economic management, Namibia is still plagued by extreme socio-economic inequalities left over from its years under the apartheid system.
Misery Index: 33.1%
CPI inflation: 7.8%
Swaziland, one of the last absolute monarchies left, relies heavily on South Africa’s economy. Most people work in subsistence farming.
Misery Index: 34.0%
CPI inflation: 6.6%
Lesotho, a small, landlocked country in Africa, also relies on South Africa to move its economy forward. Many regular people depend on remittances from family members who work in South Africa.
Misery Index: 34.4%
CPI inflation: 10.0%
Mozambique’s economy was battered by years of economic mismanagement and a bloody 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. The country has more recently attracted large investment projects, but over half of the population remains below the poverty line, and the vast majority of the country works in subsistence agriculture.
4. The Gambia
Misery Index: 36.9%
CPI inflation: 7.2%
The Gambia relies heavily on remittances and money from tourism. Its agriculture-heavy economy got slammed by several shocks recently, including a poor harvest in 2014 and the Ebola crisis.
Misery Index: 41.3%
CPI inflation: 34.7%
Angola is one of many oil producers struggling to cope with lower oil prices since 2014. Its currency weakened against the dollar, and inflation skyrocketed.
Misery Index: 62.3%
CPI inflation: 52.3%
Suriname, located on the northeastern coast of South America, runs on oil and gold. When prices fall, everyone in the country feels the effects.
Misery Index: 261.8%
CPI inflation: 254.9%
Venezuela has been in a deteriorating economic and political crisis for several years, plagued by economic mismanagement, a chronic balance of payments problem, food and essential goods shortages, and looting and violence. Among all of this, it’s inflation has skyrocketed.