Special Report

This Is the Least Financially Stressed Country

It is hard to peg a methodology for determining financial stress. Some people make a great deal of money but do not live within their means. Some people have modest incomes but are thrifty. Occasionally, people or families get hit with overwhelming costs like huge medical bills. Their financial stress can change for the worse in a matter of days.

Comparethemarket created a methodology it believes answers the question of how to measure financial stress. Instead of looking at income alone or the circumstance of sudden burdensome expenses, it looked at data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by country and prepared a report titled “Financially Stressed Countries.” Based on the research, the least financially stressed nation is the United States.

The 35 OECD nations were rated on a scale of one to 10, using five factors, with data from the OECD and Numbeo. They included: average salary, unemployment rate, the average home price for a house with three bedrooms, average monthly rent, and the cost of living for a family of four. These are the most expensive countries to rent an apartment.

It is reasonable to disagree with this as a measure of financial stress, primarily because it does not include debt, and may not include income tax, which varies substantially from country to country.

In the study, the lower the score, the less financially stressed a country is. The U.S. score was the lowest at 3.57 out of 10. The monthly salary figure used was $3,556, which seems low, based on Census figures, which were not used. The unemployment rate used was 6.7%. The housing price used was $2,865 a month. The rent figure used was $1,948. And the cost of living figured used was $3,313. So, the cost of living and salary are nearly identical.

Australia (3.75) and Denmark (3.76) also received very low scores. Both are among the richest countries in the world.

At the far end of the spectrum, Costa Rica scored 6.7. Among the major reasons was an unemployment rate of 20%. Nearly as bad, Columbia scored 6.37. The monthly salary was an unusually low $320. Greece also did badly with a score of 6.35. The salary figure at $881 is low, and unemployment at 16.2% is high.

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