Open a newspaper in the Middle East and expect to be whacked with some bad news. Still, I wasn’t prepared to read that – according to the World Misery Index (the name was a tip-off to what was coming) – Jordan (where I live) is the fourth most miserable country in the Arab world. Regionally, only people in Syria, Sudan, and Egypt are more dejected. And consider that Syria also weighed in as most-miserable in the world!
The index was published by the Troubled Currencies Project at the US-based Cato Institute, which compiles data from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the National Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The project ranked one hundred and nine nations from most miserable (1) to least-miserable (109) based on the ability of each country to reduce unemployment, inflation, and lending rates, while increasing gross domestic product per capita.
Jordan earned 24.2 points out of a possible 109; unemployment is to blame. Jobless figures stood at 11.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, reaching 9.2 per cent among men and 22 per cent among women. According to the Jordan Department of Statistics, overall unemployment in that time period decreased by 0.6 per cent compared with the second quarter of 2014. Compare that to third quarter 2013 when unemployment hit a record high of 14 per cent, and things seem to be slowly ticking upwards.
Ranked 32nd globally, Jordan performed better than Spain, which ranked 11th, and Turkey, which ranked 27th.
Among Arab states, Bahrain was rated the least miserable country, followed by Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco and Algeria. The world’s least miserable country is Switzerland, trailed by Japan and China. Perhaps Jordanians can try skiing, or add more rice to their diet.
Image from South China Morning Post