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 151 countries and Hong Kong. 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 2012 statistics (the most recent year of available data), the top 10 most economically free jurisdictions are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, Jordan and (tied for 10th) Chile and Finland. The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 12th in the world, tied with the United Kingdom. Other notable rankings include Japan (23rd), Germany (28th), Russia (98th), India (110th) and China (115th). The 10 lowest-ranked countries are Myanmar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Chad, Iran, Algeria, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo and Venezuela, which retains the title of the world’s least economically free country. Some despotic countries such as North Korea and Cuba could not be ranked because of lack of data.
The report also includes a chapter by Fred McMahon that provides an overview of the evolution of economic policy in the Arab world and how this relates to the Arab Spring and developments since; and another by Indra de Soysa and Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati that finds compelling econometric evidence that economic freedom reduces conflict.