Polls / February 22, 2011

Do you know what the “misery index” is?

About a quarter – or 26% – of respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll know what the “misery index” is.

Are conditions right for happiness?
The “misery index” is an economic measure that adds together a country’s inflation and unemployment rate. The higher the number, the greater the “misery”. While it is not a measure typically calculated by official sources, it can give an indication of the state of a country and conditions for the people living there.

The misery index is relevant now
The misery index is topical at the moment as several countries are facing high inflation (in part, due to high food and oil prices) as well as high unemployment (in part, due to the global financial crisis). Last month, The Economist wrote that the economic environment meant the misery index again had some significance. It charted “misery” scores and results of a satisfaction survey for OECD countries and found “people living with high economic misery are generally less happy”.

Emotion and the economy have long been linked
While emotion and the economy might seem to be very different, there are long established links. Consumer confidence surveys, for example, are frequently used to gauge opinion on the economy. The results are also to predict saving and spending trends. Wellbeing and sentiment are also measured by organisations and be fed into policy decisions.