Worst Countries To Live in 2021

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Some countries are wonderful places to live. They have stable governments, reasonable prices for consumer goods, plenty of job opportunities, strong social programs, and robust systems for health care, education, and national security. They may even have ample nature spaces, such as national parks, and strong support for the arts and culture. These are general traits of a developed country, which is usually a nice place to call home.

On the other hand, picture a country whose residents must endure political strife (possibly even violence), rampant inflation, high unemployment, poor health care, substandard education, and uncertain security, with few social programs, let alone support for the arts. This troubled land would be an “undeveloped country,” possibly even one of the [“least developed countries”]((/country-rankings/least-developed-countries), and a much worse place to live.

The question is, what is the best way to quickly encapsulate which is which?

Seeking the sub-standard: How to identify the worst countries in which to live

There are several annual metrics designed to measure the quality of day-to-day life in a given country.

Some of these metrics concentrate upon a single aspect of a country—for instance, the Hanke Misery Index focuses upon the economy, knowing that a healthy economy is a strong indicator of the quality of the day-to-day life of a country's residents. Others, such as the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI), compile a wide range of metrics across a half-dozen or more categories for a more overarching, whole-life approach.

These different approaches can result in very different lists of the worst countries in the world in which to live.

Top 10 Worst Countries in the World to Live In - United Nations Human Development Index 2020

Note: Scores rank from 0.0 to 1.0. Higher is better.

  1. Niger - .394
  2. Central African Republic - .397
  3. Chad - .398
  4. Burundi - .433 (tie)
  5. South Sudan - .433 (tie)
  6. Mali - .434
  7. Burkina Faso - .452 (tie)
  8. Sierra Leone - .452 (tie)
  9. Mozambique - .456
  10. Eritrea - .459

Central African countries dominate this list. Many of these countries, including Niger, Chad, South Sudan, Mali, and Burkina Faso, are currently at war thanks to civil war, ethnic violence, or terrorist insurgencies. Even for those countries that are not plagued with strife, most people attend school for only a few years, and good jobs are rare, which leaves millions of people living below the poverty line.

For example, the average person in Niger attends only 2.1 years of school, and the country's Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is $1201 PPP. To put that in perspective, top-ranked Norway (HDI .957) has a GNI of $66,494 and its citizens attend 12.9 years of school on average.

A full list of the most recent HDI rankings can be found on our HDI by country page.

Top 10 Worst Countries in the World to Live In - Hanke Misery Index 2020

Note: Lower scores are better.

  1. Venezuela - 3827.6
  2. Zimbabwe - 547.0
  3. Sudan - 193.9
  4. Lebanon - 177.1
  5. Suriname - 145.3
  6. Libya - 105.7
  7. Argentina - 95.0
  8. Iran - 92.1
  9. Angola - 60.6
  10. Madagascar - 60.4

The misery index was originally introduced by the late Arthur Okun, a Yale University economist, as a way to track the U.S. economy. More recently, John Hopkins economist Steve Hanke expanded the concept to include 156 countries and established an annual ranking of the world's best and worst countries to live in from an economic perspective.

The misery index is simple in concept. The equation adds together the unemployment rate, inflation rate, and bank lending rate, then subtracts the percentage change in real GDP per capita.

For most developed countries, the misery index hovers between a very good 0.00 and a passable 20.00. However, it is possible in extreme cases for a country to score so well that its misery index is a negative number—for example, in 2020, oil reserves were discovered in Guyana, resulting in a 25% boost in GDP per capita and a -3.3 misery index.

On the other hand, 2020's worst country in the world to live in, Venezuela, demonstrates the worse end of the equation. 2020 is the sixth year in a row that Venezuela has received this dubious designation—and given the country's 3,713% inflation and 50.3% unemployment rate, which easily overshadow a 30.9% rise in real GDP per capita for an ultimate misery index score of 3827.6, Venezuela seems well on its way to holding onto its best-of-the-worst spot for the foreseeable future.

For the full list of misery index countries and their scores, see the table below.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest misery index:

  1. Venezuela (3827.6)
  2. Zimbabwe (547)
  3. Sudan (193.9)
  4. Lebanon (177.1)
  5. Suriname (145.3)
  6. Libya (105.7)
  7. Argentina (95)
  8. Iran (92.1)
  9. Angola (60.6)
  10. Madagascar (60.4)

Worst Countries To Live in 2021

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Worst Countries To Live in 2021

Country Misery Index Human Development Index 2021 Population
Venezuela3827.60.71128,704,954
Zimbabwe5470.57115,092,171
Sudan193.90.5144,909,353
Lebanon177.10.7446,769,146
Suriname145.30.738591,800
Libya105.70.7246,958,532
Argentina950.84545,605,826
Iran92.10.78385,028,759
Angola60.60.58133,933,610
Madagascar60.40.52828,427,328
Brazil53.40.765213,993,437
South Africa49.30.70960,041,994
Haiti48.90.5111,541,685
Kyrgyzstan47.10.6976,628,356
Nigeria45.60.539211,400,708
Eswatini42.70.6111,172,362
Lesotho42.40.5272,159,079
Peru42.20.77733,359,418
Zambia41.60.58418,920,651
South Sudan41.20.43311,381,378
Turkey41.20.8285,042,738
Namibia40.70.6462,587,344
Gabon40.50.7032,278,825
Botswana39.70.7352,397,241
Iraq39.50.67441,179,350
Sao Tome And Principe39.30.625223,368
Liberia39.10.485,180,203
Jamaica38.60.7342,973,463
Jordan37.90.72910,269,021
Malawi37.90.48319,647,684
Guinea36.80.47713,497,244
Armenia36.70.7762,968,127
Uruguay36.70.8173,485,151
Montenegro36.20.829628,053
Tunisia36.10.7411,935,766
Ethiopia36.10.485117,876,227
Honduras35.80.63410,062,991
India35.80.6451,393,409,038
Panama35.70.8154,381,579
Mongolia35.40.7373,329,289
Colombia35.40.76751,265,844
Georgia34.80.8123,979,765
Uzbekistan34.10.7233,935,763
Dominican Republic340.75610,953,703
Ukraine33.50.77943,466,819
Saudi Arabia33.10.85435,340,683
Algeria32.70.74844,616,624
Pakistan32.50.557225,199,937
Costa Rica32.40.815,139,052
Paraguay320.7287,219,638
Trinidad And Tobago31.50.7961,403,375
Greece31.30.88810,370,744
Mauritius30.40.8041,273,433
Gambia30.20.4962,486,945
Cape Verde29.9561,898
Bolivia29.90.71811,832,940
Kazakhstan29.50.82518,994,962
Guatemala29.30.66318,249,860
Burundi28.70.43312,255,433
Philippines28.30.718111,046,913
Azerbaijan28.20.75610,223,342
Spain28.20.90446,745,216
North Macedonia28.10.7742,082,658
Belize27.80.716404,914
DR Congo27.40.4892,377,993
Equatorial Guinea27.10.5921,449,896
Comoros26.20.554888,451
El Salvador260.6736,518,499
Myanmar260.58354,806,012
Mozambique25.80.45632,163,047
Nicaragua24.70.666,702,385
Mexico24.60.779130,262,216
Sri Lanka24.30.78221,497,310
Chile23.90.85119,212,361
Albania23.80.7952,872,933
Bosnia And Herzegovina23.80.783,263,466
Iceland23.50.949343,353
Ecuador23.30.75917,888,475
Fiji23.20.743902,906
Mauritania23.20.5464,775,119
Morocco22.80.68637,344,795
New Zealand22.30.9314,860,643
Belarus220.8239,442,862
Italy220.89260,367,477
Oman21.60.8135,223,375
United Kingdom21.50.93268,207,116
Egypt20.90.707104,258,327
Indonesia20.90.718276,361,783
Kenya20.80.60154,985,698
Vanuatu20.40.609314,464
Kuwait20.30.8064,328,550
Papua New Guinea20.10.5559,119,010
Russia19.90.824145,912,025
Nepal19.50.60229,674,920
Romania18.50.82819,127,774
Serbia18.40.8068,697,550
France18.40.90165,426,179
Croatia18.30.8514,081,651
Hong Kong18.20.9497,552,810
Canada18.10.92938,067,903
Malta180.895442,784
Portugal180.86410,167,925
Uganda17.60.54447,123,531
Mali17.50.43420,855,735
Estonia17.10.8921,325,185
Latvia17.10.8661,866,942
Slovenia170.9172,078,724
United States16.70.926332,915,073
Moldova16.40.754,024,019
Cyprus16.30.8871,215,584
Slovakia16.20.865,460,721
Bulgaria160.8166,896,663
Laos160.6137,379,358
Burkina Faso15.90.45221,497,096
Australia15.90.94425,788,215
Cuba15.80.78311,317,505
Czech Republic15.710,724,555
Cameroon15.50.56327,224,265
Belgium15.40.93111,632,326
Hungary14.80.8549,634,164
Singapore14.60.9385,896,686
Lithuania14.50.8822,689,862
Austria14.50.9229,043,070
Malaysia14.50.8132,776,194
Guinea Bissau14.40.482,015,494
Israel14.40.9198,789,774
Luxembourg14.30.916634,814
Bangladesh140.632166,303,498
Poland13.90.8837,797,005
Vietnam13.40.70498,168,833
Bahrain13.20.8521,748,296
Central African Republic13.20.3974,919,981
Netherlands130.94417,173,099
Ireland12.90.9554,982,907
Norway12.80.9575,465,630
Finland12.80.9385,548,360
Sweden12.70.94510,160,169
Thailand12.60.77769,950,850
Denmark11.80.945,813,298
United Arab Emirates11.80.899,991,089
Chad11.60.39816,914,985
Tanzania11.60.52961,498,437
Tonga11.40.725106,760
Germany10.90.94783,900,473
Ivory Coast10.80.53827,053,629
Rwanda10.60.54313,276,513
Niger10.50.39425,130,817
Togo9.50.5158,478,250
Switzerland8.60.9558,715,494
South Korea8.30.91651,305,186
China8.10.7611,444,216,107
Japan80.919126,050,804
Qatar5.30.8482,930,528
Taiwan3.823,855,010
Palau0.82618,169
Liechtenstein0.91938,250
Saint Kitts And Nevis0.77953,544
Marshall Islands0.70459,610
Dominica0.74272,167
Andorra0.86877,355
Antigua And Barbuda0.77898,731
Seychelles0.79698,908
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines0.738111,263
Grenada0.779113,021
Micronesia0.62116,254
Kiribati0.63121,392
Saint Lucia0.759184,400
Samoa0.715200,149
Barbados0.814287,711
Bahamas0.814396,913
Brunei0.838441,532
Maldives0.74543,617
Solomon Islands0.567703,996
Bhutan0.654779,898
Guyana0.682790,326
Djibouti0.5241,002,187
Timor Leste0.6061,343,873
Eritrea0.4593,601,467
Palestine0.7085,222,748
Republic of the Congo0.5745,657,013
Turkmenistan0.7156,117,924
Sierra Leone0.4528,141,343
Tajikistan0.6689,749,627
Benin0.54512,451,040
Cambodia0.59416,946,438
Senegal0.51217,196,301
Syria0.56718,275,702
Yemen0.4730,490,640
Ghana0.61131,732,129
Afghanistan0.51139,835,428

Worst Countries To Live in 2021