Jamaica has ranked 5th on an international list, but it is not for a good reason. In fact, it is downright depressing, as the ranking is for the fifth most miserable country in the world. The right-leaning Cato Institute (out of the U.S., it is “dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.”) compiles an annual list of 90 countries based on how miserable it is to live there.
Scholars and researchers who compile the list consider factors such as inflation, interest rates and unemployment to determine which countries fall where. According to the list, there are four countries in which people are likely to be more miserable than people in Jamaica: Venezuela, Serbia, Iran and Argentina.
The economic focus is evident in the fact that Jamaica ranks worse than nations such as Egypt or the Palestinian Territory or Honduras, where basic personal safety is not assured as conflict is regular in these countries.
It seems, not surprisingly considering the ideological bent of the Cato Institute, that economic factors are given the most weight. Of course, these are relevant. There is no doubt that Jamaicans are experiencing financial difficulties, which spill over every aspect of one’s life and affect its quality. However, there are intangibles that I assume the researchers did not take into account, such as how much family and community factor into daily lives here, as well as Jamaicans’ ability to have a good time, no matter what. There are many other intangibles that are part of the culture here that contribute to quality of life.
This is obviously a complex issue with as many factors as there are ideologies that are employed to assess big concepts such as a “misery index”. Here again, to me, is an instance of over-simplifying and overlooking the millions of stories to be told and accounted for.