30 Countries with the Most Economic Freedom

 

The 23rd (2017) edition of the Index of Economic Freedom was released, and the results are surprising. According to the website, “In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.” Feel free to take a minute to guess the top 5 countries… and then feel silly knowing that you were inevitably totally wrong.

Okay, maybe it’s not so surprising when you see the world already mapped out with the index’s scores, but if you had asked me before seeing the results, I would have guessed that Scandinavian countries would dominate the top 10. I am also surprised to see the US ranked #17 because I expected it to be much lower, and Japan ($40) much higher. Regardless, economic freedom is an interesting way to consider what it means to be free, and this is how they define it:

Economic freedom is the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property.

Without further ado…

The Rankings

The rankings below show the country name, the overall score, and the change from last year (in parentheses).

  • 1) Hong Kong 89.8 (+1.2)
  • 2) Singapore 88.6 (+0.8)
  • 3) New Zealand 83.7 (+2.1)
  • 4) Switzerland 81.5 (+0.5)
  • 5) Australia 81.0 (+0.7)
  • 6) Estonia 79.1 (+1.9)
  • 7) Canada 78.5 (+0.5)
  • 8) United Arab Emirates 76.9 (+4.3)
  • 9) Ireland 76.7 (-0.6)
  • 10) Chile 76.5 (-1.2)
  • 11) Taiwan 76.5 (+1.8)
  • 12) United Kingdom 76.4 (0.0)
  • 13) Georgia 76.0 (+3.4)
  • 14) Luxembourg 75.9 (+2.0)
  • 15) The Netherlands 75.8 (+1.2)
  • 16) Lithuania 75.8 (+0.6)
  • 17) United States 75.1 (-0.3)
  • 18) Denmark 75.1 (-0.2)
  • 19) Sweden 74.9 (+2.9)
  • 20) Latvia 74.8 (+4.4)
  • 21) Mauritius 74.7 (0.0)
  • 22) Iceland 74.4 (+1.1)
  • 23) South Korea 74.3 (+2.6)
  • 24) Finland 74.0 (+1.4)
  • 25) Norway 74.0 (+3.2)
  • 26) Germany 73.8 (-0.6)
  • 27) Malaysia 73.8 (+2.3)
  • 28) Czech Republic 73.3 (+0.1)
  • 29) Qatar 73.1 (+2.4)
  • 30) Austria 72.3 (+0.6)

 

People seem to always have strong opinions about these types of rankings, but you can find more information on the Heritage Foundation website. You can even see comparisons of specific countries, continents, or regions, on ratings of everything from property rights and government integrity to tax burden and freedom of business.

Their research is robust, so they most certainly have reasoning behind each and every number – none of it is frivolous. However, there is always the potential that certain factors may be overlooked; this is just one of the many ways in which we can quantify the freedom nationals can enjoy in their respective countries.

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