The Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha has welcomed this week’s Bloomberg Misery Index which lists Thailand as the least miserable country in the world with the lowest score in its old fashioned economic misery index. The measurement effectively says that Thai people are happier economically than people in any other country. Thai people live in a vibrant nation with just over 1% inflation, a rising middle class and the lowest unemployment rate in the world. Factor in the balmy weather, unique culture and lifestyle where everyone eats out because it’s cheaper and you will understand why western foreigners continue to flock to Thailand to live, work and holiday.

This week, the respected financial media and data firm, Bloomberg, has named Thailand as the happiest economy of the world for the second year in a row. Switzerland was in second place. The Bloomberg Misery Index says Thailand achieved the lowest score making it the least economically oppressive place to live in the word. This should be distinguished from the UN indices for the happiest country which are based on extended and progressive values. This result is, in some ways, a more authentic and streamlined one based on a more old fashioned and proven economic formula. It is, of course, a negative value, indicating that often the best governments for a national economy are those with the lightest touch.

Thailand’s Prime Minister welcomes the good news this week that Bloomberg has, for the second year in a row, named Thailand as the world’s happiest and least burdensome economy for individuals. The news comes as no surprise to western foreigners who continue to flock to the Land of Smiles where the weather is better and money is easier to manage. The news drew skeptical comments even from Bloomberg’s own correspondents who questioned Thailand’s low unemployment rate. However, the picture is real and the reasons for it are numerous and strong. Thailand has many unique attributes as a society and economy including a large casual, self employed business sector outside the official economy, large numbers of workers and owners on the land and a highly competitive retail and service economy because of low government regulation. It is why most Thai people eat out everyday in a more sociable environment and every Thai person can easily find work.

The results chimes with the view of up to a million foreigners who live in Thailand and huge numbers of western foreigners who have made the kingdom a second home from home over the last thirty years as the West has become more socialised and society has moved to the left. Aside from its wonderful weather and unique culture, there are very real economic reasons why the country emerges as the best place in the world to live. The bottom end of the index, announced this week, by Bloomberg in New York was reserved for Venezuela, a country rich in oil reserves and natural resources and which was once the richest economy in South America. The difference is societal values and the approach taken by the government to economic governance. Venezuela embraced socialism when Hugo Chavez, now deceased, began his socialist revolution over twenty years ago. Thailand, on the other hand, has stuck rigidly to its traditional family orientated values including at the highest level, Thailand’s monarchy. Since the 1960s in Thailand, there has also been an intense distrust of socialism.

Thailand has the lowest score in the Bloomberg Economic Misery Index again this year

Thailand has emerged again in a worldwide survey as No.1 suggesting it is the happiest economy in the world. It has attained the lowest score in an economic misery index for international economies around the world published annually by Bloomberg in New York. This makes it, effectively, the least miserable or happiest place to world from an economic point of view. For many western expats or foreigners living in Thailand, the index that Bloomberg calls the Misery Index could well be called the freedom index because it directly reflects the smaller footprint of government on people’s lives that many people find to be true in Thailand.

Western foreigners have long ago discovered the secret of Thailand and made it home

There has long been a contention by many foreigners and expats who opt to live in the kingdom that many current and similar surveys produced by the UN, fail to reflect the real,  fundamental feelings of people who live and work in countries in the world. Instead, they relate more progressive ideology to the influencing factors when taking into account each country’s merits. An example of this is a Danish man or Norwegian man who opts to move to live in Thailand. These countries, the UN tells us, are the happiest in their recent surveys. Yet, each year, large numbers of Norwegians and Danes move to live in Thailand. In a reverse instance, Thailand undoubtedly has perhaps the most dangerous roads in the world but this does not factor in the Bloomberg Economic Misery Index which is purely and simply, an indicator of economic influences on people. It is why many western expats and foreigners, from all over the world, move to Thailand every year to live. In truth, many are seeking more personal and economic freedom from taxes and regulations which are increasing in the western world.

Cultural benefits of Thailand and warm weather make it also a second home to many weary western travelers who visit regularly

Many point also to the additional cultural benefits of living in Thailand such as a more traditional and socially inclusive society based on its own unique code of living as key considerations for living in this Southeast Asian kingdom. The country is well known, worldwide and even among its own population, as the Land of Smiles.

A lot of the smiling in Thailand is also due, it has to be said, to the consistently warm weather and sunshine. These are the same reasons that draw so many visitors to Thailand each year with over 40 million visitors expected to visit in 2019. It is a country that is so different that growing numbers of western foreigners are making it a home from home in addition to those who already live in the kingdom and those who holiday there.

The country at the opposite end of the Bloomberg Index from Thailand is Venezuela

Bloomberg is an internationally recognised data and financial news company based in New York. The misery index accords Thailand a score of 2.1 making it the lowest on the table for the second year in a row. The index surveyed 62 economies. To illustrate the meaning of the survey, the index placed Venezuela, once the richest country in South America that was destroyed by socialism and left wing politics, at the bottom of its list. Venezuela currently boasts an inflation rate measured in millions of percent. Officially right now, it is  6 million per cent as we write but it keeps going up. If you are fortunate enough today to buy a hamburger in Venezuela in the morning, its costs will have zoomed up by evening time. That is how bad things are. The situation in that unfortunate country is so dire that it would take a worker 2 months salary, on a minimum wage, to be able even to afford a hamburger. The country’s economy has collapsed.

Thailand is a country with a very light touch when it comes to economic management

Contrast the plight of Venezuela to Thailand. The Thai economy has recorded consistent improvements in combating poverty over the last 30 years and has, at the same time, an enviable inflation rate of approximately 1.1% per annum. The country also has the lowest unemployment rate in the world standing currently at 0.9% or under 1%. No one in Thailand finds it difficult to find employment. The reason is that, as a country, it has a very laissez faire approach to economics and management of the economy. It is estimated that up to 50% of the Thai economy operates in an unregulated, self employed market with a very low level of token taxation. At the same time, Thailand has a growing middle class, many experiencing the the western dream lifestyle for the first time. Thailand has all the US and international franchise chains within its prosperous cities and towns throughout the kingdom. This means a Thai worker can order a McDonalds takeaway by smartphone on a Friday or anytime of the day or week and have it delivered to his or her door at a very inexpensive cost. Yet, Thailand does not have anything like the substantial oil reserves and natural resources of Venezuela. The contrasting difference is all down to culture and the approach taken to economic development.

Countries at the top of this index all have less regulation and strong community identities

In the survey, the combination of low unemployment and low inflation combined with other positive attributes kept Thailand in the No 1 position in this survey for the second year in row. Switzerland rose from fourth to second place with a score of 3.1. It was followed by Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. It should be clear to any observer that there is a pattern here. All the countries at the top of the index have less regulation. Four of the top five countries also have mandatory military conscription and Japan, even though it doesn’t have conscription, has very traditional values and strong hierarchal structures in business. All the countries have a strong sense of community. In short, they are all quite old fashioned in social terms.

Thailand tops the index for very sound reasons

A Bloomberg commentary, as many international media observers often tend to do, suggested that the Thai figures for unemployment were skewed or somehow questionable. However, this is not true. There are very strong reasons for Thailand’s low unemployment rate. For one, up to 50% of Thailand’s effective economy is found in that casual, self regulated sector which absorbs any person seeking employment. Another reason is the large number of Thai people still living on the land and its ability to absorb workers in an downturn. The truly competitive nature of the Thai casual economy as well as the Thai retail and wholesale sector contributes to the low levels of inflation by affording poorer Thai people retail solutions and keeping prices low. Part of this casual network is the huge number of food vendors in Thailand where nearly everyone eats out at a highly affordable rate. It is cheaper, more convenient and quite sociable. Nearly three quarters of the small business people in this casual sector are Thai women.

Thailand has its own economic challenges

In spite of the award, it must be pointed out that Thailand has a number of key economic problems of its own when it comes to its economic development. One is its very high level of household debt with up 80% of Thai households owing money. The second is the aging demographics of Thailand’s population due to UN inspired policies followed by nearly all Asian countries in the 1960 and 1970s. These same policies underlie all the economic challenges now facing the western world, particularly Europe. This has meant that, as Thailand does not have a fully fledged social welfare system, many older Thai people continue to work in the workplace long after they should have retired. The burden of old people is offset by a strong sense of respect and support shown by their children and Thai society in general, towards the old.

UK and America improved their standings in 2019 index that uses a tried and trusted formula

The Bloomberg index rated the UK at 16th place with America coming in a 13th place. Both countries improved their standings this year. The survey, which is based on a long standing and proven economic theory that the best way to judge any economy is to take its unemployment rate and inflation rate. This was long though to be the most effective way to appreciate the underlying happiness of the local population before new approaches were developed to support a more intrusive, progressive style of government advocated by the United Nations. It is quite a different approach to UN surveys but certainly a more proven approach.

Thai Prime Minister expresses satisfaction with Thailand’s position on the Bloomberg index

Thailand’s Prime Minister this week welcomed the news. He expressed his satisfaction with Thailand’s emergence again in poll position as the least miserable or happiest economy in the world in the Bloomberg annual index. Deputy Government spokesman, Lieutenant General Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, confirmed Thailand’s unemployment rate at 0.9% and its inflation rate for last year at 1.1%.

Thailand points to its location as a safe, secure and easier place to do business in the world

The Thai government also used the occasion to point to Thailand’s success at combating crime and corruption the kingdom as well as the continued affordable cost of living as factors that make people feel more secure and happier. In recent years, Thailand has also emerged as a business friendly location in Asia to do business. The World Bank places Thailand at number 27 in the world, well ahead of many EU countries for its ease of doing business.

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Further reading:

A politically incorrect economic success: Thailand is home to some of the world’s richest people

Bright economic outlook for Thailand but the debt nightmare for poorer Thai people must be tackled

Foreigners in Thailand should find out more about Thailand 4.0 and be part of the change that is coming

Noble spirit of Thailand’s elderly helps country deal with demographic problem