Special Report

Eight Countries Where the Most People Suffer

8. Iran
> Pct. suffering: 31%
> GDP per capita: $12,985
> Pct. viewing gov. as corrupt: 57%

More than 30% of surveyed Iranians said they were unhappy, rating their lives as four or worse on a scale of one to 10. The hardships caused by economic sanctions imposed on Iran the last few years have likely made matters worse for the country, according to Gallup’s Jan Sonnenschein. National unemployment in 2012 was 12.2%, among the highest in the world. The country’s GDP contracted by 1.9% in 2012 and is projected to contract an additional 1.5% next year, both among the worst in the world. According to the U.S. State department, Iranian men, women, and children are subjected to forced marriages, forced prostitution, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation. 

7. Macedonia
> Pct. suffering: 31%
> GDP per capita: $10,465
> Pct. who view gov. as corrupt: 51%

As many as 31% of surveyed Macedonians said they were unhappy with their lives in 2012, up from 25% in 2011. Since its founding in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia has struggled with conflicts between the country’s Orthodox Christian majority and its Muslim Albanian minority, which makes up about one-quarter of the population. The country’s economy is in a dire state. As of 2011, more than 30% of the country’s population lived in poverty, one of the highest rates in the world. In 2012, the country was one of just a few to see GDP contract. Macedonia had the highest unemployment rate of any country reporting to the IMF at 31.3% in 2012. The country also has problems with corruption. According to Transparency International’s recent survey, 77% of the Macedonian population believed the nation’s public officials and civil servants force was corrupt, and 87% thought the police were corrupt, both among the highest in the world.

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6. Madagascar
> Pct. suffering: 31%
> GDP per capita: $945
> Pct. who view gov. as corrupt: 57%

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina staged a coup to seize power four years ago. This resulted in a sharp drop in foreign aid, which at one time accounted for 40% of the country’s budget. The unstable government has also caused foreign investment to decline considerably. With a GDP per capita in 2012 less than 2% of the U.S., Madagascar is one of the poorest economies in the world. As of 2012, more than 75% of the country’s residents lived below the poverty line. As of 2011, life expectancy in the country was just 63 years and more than 1 in 3 children under five were underweight, the sixth-highest proportion in the world. Madagascar is also one of the least safe countries in the world. According to a separate Gallup survey conducted in 2012, six in 10 of the country’s residents didn’t feel safe walking alone at night. In the U.S., 25% felt this way.

5. Hungary
> Pct. suffering: 32%
> GDP per capita: $19,496
> Pct. who view gov. as corrupt: 27%

Largely due to its continued struggles from the global economic crisis, Hungary’s GDP contracted by 1.7% last year, among the worst in the world. Roma, the historically persecuted minority residing in many European countries, make up 7% of Hungary’s population. The Roma have suffered from widespread poverty and often-violent acts of discrimination in recent years. According to Gallup’s Sonnenschein, recent actions by Hungary’s the government to amend the constitution to limit freedom of the press may contribute to suffering in the country.

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