The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, measures the economic freedom (levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property, rule of law, etc.) by analyzing the policies and institutions of 157 countries and territories. It is the world’s premier measurement of economic freedom, using 42 distinct variables to create an index, ranking countries based on economic freedom, which is measured in five areas: size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation of credit, labour and business.
According to the report, based on 2013 statistics (the most recent year of available data), the top 10 most economically free jurisdictions are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, Canada, with the United Kingdom and Chile tied for 10th. The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000.
The 10 lowest-ranked countries are Angola, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Argentina, Syria, Chad, Libya, Republic of Congo, and Venezuela. Some despotic countries such as North Korea and Cuba can’t be ranked due to lack of data.
Globally, the average economic freedom score rose slightly to 6.86 out of 10 from 6.84 last year.
The report also includes a chapter examining the link between a country’s level of economic freedom and its citizens’ life satisfaction, or happiness. The chapter, Economic Freedom, Individual Perceptions of Life Control and Life Satisfaction, finds that living in an economically free country plays a greater role in one’s life satisfaction than does income, age, employment or even a country’s political system.
**Minor recalculations of the index after printing of the report have moved Chile to 10th place (tied with UK) from 13th place and Zimbabwe to 149th from 150th in the index. The corrected scores and ranks are available in the data set.