16 October 2018
Thais (left) have good reason to smile. Photo: Jack Kurtz/ Getty Image, Bloomberg
Thais (left) have good reason to smile. Photo: Jack Kurtz/ Getty Image, Bloomberg

Why Thailand is the Land of Smiles and Hong Kong isn’t

Thailand has the world’s happiest — or least miserable — consumers, a comparison of 51 economies shows.

The ranking is based on Bloomberg’s calculations of the “misery index”, which is found by adding the unemployment rate to the consumer inflation rate.

The Thais enjoy an unemployment rate below 1 percent, which has yet to drive up inflation.

Japan comes in third, followed closely by South Korea and Taiwan, after runner-up Switzerland in this year’s happiness ranking. 

(The table below the chart shows all 51 economies surveyed, with the ones scoring the highest misery index at the top and the happiest at the bottom.)

After two decades battling against deflation, the Japanese will experience inflation of about 1 percent this year. Their unemployment rate is likely to ease further to 3.5 percent, after averaging 3.6 percent last year.

Relatively subdued inflation and unemployment will move mainland Chinese to seventh-happiest of the lot, two spots better than a year ago, Bloomberg said.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, is far down the list of happiest places as measured by the misery index, coming in at 17th.

That’s despite Hongkongers having the second-highest per capita gross domestic product, after the Norwegians, as IMF figures show. 

But given the high Gini coefficient of inequality, most Hongkongers will benefit less from all that GDP than executives at banks and property developers in the city.

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