Maldives ranked world’s 22nd “most miserable place” by Business Insider

The Maldives has been ranked 22nd among the “most miserable places in the world” by the financial publication Business Insider, on the basis of the country’s unemployment rates and Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation.

Using a “crude economic measure” called the ‘misery index’, the Maldives came 22nd out of 197 nations reviewed, placing between Iran and the Gaza Strip.

The position was calculated based on on figures provided in the 2013 CIA World Factbook, the latest figures of which were published earlier this month.

Without a chance to have seen the report or verify its conclusions, the Maldives Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) dismissed the use of unemployment figures as an indication of development or misery in the Maldives.

A representative for the chamber of commerce maintained that a need for educational reform and long-term problems in addressing concerns over the nation’s work ethic were much more pressing issues dictating overall happiness in the Maldives.

According to the misery index presented by Business Insider, the Maldives was found to have a CPI inflation of 12.8 percent and an unemployment rate of 28 percent. The country was given a misery score of 40.8 based on the combined inflation and unemployment rates.

“It’s a lovely place to vacation, and a good thing, too — tourism accounts for 30 percent of Maldives’ GDP and more than 60 percent of foreign exchange receipts,” reported Business Insider. “However, recent drops in tourism and heavy government spending have taken a toll on the local economy, causing high inflation and an unemployment rate that’s nearly doubled since 2010.”

Zimbabwe was identified as the most miserable place to live, based on a score of 103.3, the publication reported.

“Work ethic”

While unaware of the report or the legitimacy of its conclusions, MNCCI Vice President Ismail Asif  said that unemployment was a far less significant issue impacting the lives of Maldivians.  From the perspective of the country’s business community, Asif said concerns about entrepreneurship and national attitudes were seen as greater challenges to development.

“There are jobs here, but is the work ethic in the Maldives that is the problem. There are certain types of jobs that Maldivians don’t want to do,” he said.

“The construction industry is one such example. Maldivians don’t really want to work in the industry even if the pay is good. I don’t mean labourer positions either, but working as a foreman or site manager.”

Asif said a greater focus was needed in schools to address concerns held by the business community about the nation’s work ethic, which he said reflected a wider lack of practical skills and understanding. The MNCCI vice president pointed to the prevalence of computer literate young people in the Maldives, and at the same time noted that only a small proportion of this group had been taught to swim, despite living in a country comprised of 99 percent ocean.

“Something is very wrong with education here. We need to give young people a more clear idea of work ethics and what is expected of them, and the type of jobs that are out there,” he said.

Broadened horizons

Asif accused the education system of focusing on rigid employment opportunities such as the tourism industry, that had hampered entrepreneurship in the country, particularly on islands in the country’s outer atolls where he said a greater emphasis lay on starting small and medium businesses.

Asid said a failure by authorities to broaden the vision of the next generation of students could create long-term problems for national development.

Asif was also critical of the role aid agencies presently played in the country, accusing groups such as the UN – which continue to provide aid and a number of development projects to island communities – of creating a culture of dependency among the general populace.

“Agencies like the UN formerly were used to employ family members of senior [government] people like [former autocratic ruler president Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom’s daughters. Since democracy was introduced they have talked about human rights but failed to bridge the gap between the resort industry and the private sector,” he said.

Asif alleged that rather than working with private sector to develop more local industry, aid agencies had served to encourage a form “professional begging” within island communities by encouraging them to apply for funding for projects that were often short-term in scope.

“We have begun to lose our sense of enterprise that helped us survive as a country for so long,” he added.

Asif claimed that a nature of “spoon feeding” that was instigated some 40 to 50 years previously had also gone unchallenged, leading to what he claimed was a lack of leadership skills in the local workforce and the wider population at large.

“This is why we only have [former President’s] Gayoom and Nasheed in the country,” he added.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from State Minister for Finance Abbas Adil Riza at the time of press. Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad and Economic Development Minister Ahmed Mohamed were not responding to calls from Minivan News.

The misery index used by Business Insider was devised by economist Arthur Orkum and revolves around the principle that the majority of a population will understand the pain on society of high unemployment and soaring prices for consumer goods.


19 thoughts on “Maldives ranked world’s 22nd “most miserable place” by Business Insider”

  1. Dear Neil Marret,
    You and your type are causing enough miseries to our people by writing about these frivolous indices. Please leave us in our miserable country to fend for ourselves and kindly go back to your happy country. Thank you

  2. Funny how a lot of the countries are muslim. According to muslims, they are always number 1 in everything.

    More importantly, this is true. Maldives is a miserable place to live in. Will it get better? Not really. However, the followers of PPM and MDP would like to think otherwise. When climate change hits Maldives hard, the already fragile economy would be in shambles. So, good luck to you, muslim maldivians, a.k.a god's chosen people.

  3. Asif, I'm not sure if it's a problem with work ethic. I think deeper underlying structural issues is the real problem here. There is an enormous mismatch between the training/qualifications we give our youth, and available jobs on the market. Also, taking the claim that those educated in the capital are better trained than those in the islands at face value, the supply of labor for menial jobs such as construction etc, are actually not in the geographically "correct" place, that is in Hulhumale and Male. Third, the reason why resort owners bring foreign labor is because they do not want to pay a respectable wage! It is not a work ethic problem if someone will not sell their labor power for below market prices.

  4. Fili Nasheed and Minivan will use all thier tactics to defame our nation .

    No matter how hard you tried to do that, Fili Nasheed will never be able to rule this nation ever.

    Wives and Concubines. You can hate Muslims as much as you want and it make no difference to Muslims. Doing this , your religion does not become even better .

  5. Maldives ranked heaven’s 05th “most peaceful place” by Spritual Outsider

  6. Misery's like a little fuse. You plug it into a miserable public, then give them the means to strike back, they will do so.

  7. Asif, I think your remarks capture only part of the problem. Yes, there is need to reform the education system, to match the skills and aptitude of our students with the requirements of employers. At the same time there is also a need to change our lax attitudes towards work. However, since inflation and unemployment are defined as macro economic problems, there are a number structural deficiencies on the part of the government/state that we need to take in account here. Number one being the lack of legislation governing the labor market. Maldivians reluctance to work certain jobs or certain industries could be effectively resolved by tightening labor regulations to protect employees and by introducing a minimum wage legislation. Now, talking about entrepreneurship and the culture of 'begging', mind you the culture of 'begging' is not something purported by the Aid agencies, but it is a result of the government's failure to provide the basic infrastructure necessary for people to make a decent living. I think its about time we ask how much the government has done to promote or advance industries other than tourism in the Maldives. How easy is credit available? How much of a demand is there in the outer atolls (where the unemployment rate could well over be above 50 percent and the meager income that is earned is enough to pay for the basics) for a product of a novel enterprise? Also, I wouldn't dismiss this ranking - Just ask an average Maldivian family, with no assets surviving on what they earn trying to make ends meet - if life isn't miserable? Ask one of the many young couples in the islands, struggling to find employment in their islands and making monthly trips to Male' simply because the prices of goods at their local retail shop is unaffordable - I think they will agree with this index. I think the one big mistake that we make when me make general statements about life in the Maldives - is that we look at Male' only and forget the inhabitants of the other islands who are suffering due to lack of proper infrastructure and other opportunities.

  8. The most lethargic and dysfunctional institution in the history of Maldives is the chamber of commerce. Comedian Yoosay has made a 'Michale Moore style' commedy about the place.

    And now we have the senior honko there talking about the lack of worth ethic among Maldivains.

    When did this Chamber show any leadership? Even MATI is million times more organized. So who is this kettle labeling everyone black

  9. 22nd most miserable?............I would place Maldives in No 1 position.
    You guys are No 1 in political instability
    You guys are No 1 in religious intolerance
    You guys are No 1 in drug addiction
    You guys are No 1 in human rights abuses
    You guys are No 1 in crime

  10. Please can you take your tantrums somewhere else. get a life

  11. Miserable maybe only for the politicians, which is good news for the rest of us. As for common people like me, it has been getting better and better by the day.

  12. The biggest problem with Maldivians is that most of them are living in denial.Things wont improve if we are not willing to accept the truth.

  13. Maldives needs a very strong work culture.
    I have been trying to train some of the students but they just shirk away from anything that comes remotely close to hard work, this is youngsters that i am talking about- they just don't seem to have any dreams. all they are interested in is latest mobiles, easy money & blowing the money on 'god knows what'.
    Love to gossip & ready to believe what they want to even if it is contrary to what they see as right.
    The crux of the problem lies in the confused education system, dignity of labour needs to be taken up very strongly by the educationist. If things are not taken on an urgent basis then we will have a situation wherein we will be importing ex pats for all blue collar jobs & we will sit & whine that 'they
    ' have taken away our jobs....

  14. @MissIndia NewDelhi

    You forgot to mention about...
    No 1 in divorce in the world.


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