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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 10:17pm
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong more miserable than many of its neighbours, index shows

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 3:39am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 3:39am

Hong Kong, billed as Asia's World City, is more miserable than many other places in the region - including mainland China - according to an American think tank. But it is still one of the least miserable places on earth, research by the libertarian Cato Institute found.

A Hong Kong economist laughed off the findings, saying the study relied too heavily on economic rather than social indicators such as freedom and democracy.

City University economics professor Dr Li Kui-wai said it was too simplistic to link misery with economic performance.

"The index takes into account mainly economic indicators," Li said. "But we should not overlook other social factors such as freedoms and democracy when we judge if a place is miserable or not."

On the index, the higher the rating, the greater the misery.

Researchers gave Hong Kong a rating of 10.1, making it less miserable than 75 other surveyed regions, but more so than mainland China, whose 7.9 rating put it in 83rd place.

Least miserable of the 90 nations and territories ranked was Japan (5.41), followed by Uzbekistan (5.7) and then Taiwan (6.13) in 88th place.

Worst off was Venezuela, with a rating of 79.4.

Factors taken into account in assessing the misery score included the rates of joblessness, lending and inflation, and growth in gross domestic product.

The researchers attributed Hong Kong's misery to the high cost of borrowing, while the mainland's annual GDP growth, at 7.7 per cent last year, had made it a more cheerful place.

"For most people, quality of life is important," index researcher Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, said.

"[They] prefer lower inflation rates, lower unemployment rates, lower lending rates and higher GDP per capita."

High inflation was cited as the big problems for Venezuela and the next most miserable country, Iran. Serbia and Argentina also ranked poorly.

Even protest-wracked Thailand, with 6.83, was ranked as more cheerful than Hong Kong. Other cheerier Asian nations included Singapore (6.38), South Korea (6.77) and Malaysia (7.88).



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This article is now closed to comments

The biggest misery in Hong Kong is reading SCMP articles about BS surveys.
As Churchill once said, "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
This index is focussing on misery. And misery is primarily a result of economic factors, not political freedom and democracy, Dr. Li Kui-wai. Although the political circumstances are for sure a factor for economic results, but not necessarily so called freedom and democracy. The Philippines and India are far more "democratic" than Hong Kong, but also far more miserable.
Another story of so-called ranking and indexing. Human beings are born with many instincts; comparison with others to see who is better or worse off seems to be one of such. This may explain tabloids keep on selling stories of this kind of personal wealth ranking, city competitiveness ranking and such and such, stirring debates on all sorts covering serious philosophical topics like democracy vs autocracy, happiness vs miserableness. Indeed to some people long enslaved by benign dictatorship, freedom means no secruity and protection. Without security happiness will be shaky. But is this really what happiness means? The indexing work by Cato Institute cannot be taken seriously. If the mainland is scoring lower than HK meaning the former is less miserable, it is odd to see so many mainland Chinese are moving into this small city.
Freedom and democracy as indicators of happiness. It depends on the quality doesn't it? Are dysfunctional "democractic" systems such as the US and Thailand any good when policies keep on getting debated and debated without any implementation in contrast to say a working one-party dominant parliamentary system like Singapore that gets things done? What so good about a democracy that has become a vetocracy/plutocracy? Freedom and democracy can't just be about personal rights but personal/collective responsibilities as well.
I disagreed with this survey result. I don't think that HK is miserable than China.


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