The Misery Index – Is the U.S. a Happy Nation?

The original Misery Index was created by economist Arthur Okun, a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisors. The Index was a way to help President Johnson understand how the country was doing by tracking the impact of unemployment and inflation on the population.  It was later modified by Robert Barro of Harvard and again by Steven H. Hanke.  Hanke’s Misery Index (HAMI) is a “metric of well-being as viewed through the lens of economics” and reflects the “sum of the year-end unemployment (multiplied by two), inflation, and bank-lending rates, minus the annual percentage change in real GDP per capita.”

When the HAMI was released in 2020, Mr. Hanke stated “The misery index provides politicians with a useful, easy-to-understand metric of well-being as viewed through the lens of official economics statistics. Why useful? Because politicians know that they can remain in office only if they garner the public’s support. And what generates public support? A healthy economy. Hence the importance of Hanke’s Annual Misery Index.”

Per the metrics created by Mr. Hanke, what country ranked as the happiest in 2022?  Switzerland.  Why? Mr.  Hanke attributes the country’s ranking to the “Swiss Debt Brake”.

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