September 16, 2019 Print

Fraser Institute, an Atlas Network partner based in Vancouver, just released its annual Economic Freedom of the World Report for 2019. The report, produced by James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, Joshua Hill, and Ryan Murphy, ranks each nation based on economic freedom. Nations are then placed in their respective quartiles, ranging from ‘Most Free’ to ‘Least Free’. 

The index was first produced in 1996 and it hones in on five specific areas to measure economic freedom: Size of government, legal system and property rights, sound money, international trade, and regulation.

The index found Hong Kong and Singapore are, once again, the freest nations in the World with an 8.91 and 8.71 overall rating respectively, while Venezuela, Libya, and Sudan are the least-free. The United States, with an overall rating of 8.19, comes in at number 5.

The Fraser Institute concluded that nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in essentially all indicators of well-being.“ Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $36,770 in 2017, compared to $6,140 for bottom quartile nations.” Additionally, Fraser was able to conclude that nations in the top quartile provide a higher quality of life for their poor.“ In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% was $10,646, compared to $1,503 in the bottom quartile. Additionally, in the top quartile, only 1.8% of the population experience extreme poverty compared to 27% in the lowest quartile.” The index was also able to determine that nations in the top quartile have lower rates of infant mortality (6.7 per 1,000 compared to 40.5 per 1,000) and a higher life expectancy (79.5 compared to 64.4) than nations in the bottom quartile.

Since 2017, the report also includes a Gender Disparity Index, highlighting additional restrictions and regulations that uniquely impact and target women. As stated in the 2017 report, “countries that place additional restrictions on the economic rights of women forgo the benefits that would be gained by allowing women to choose for themselves whether, and how, they would like to participate in the formal economy.” The report concluded that nations with a higher overall freedom rating generally have a smaller gender disparity and a higher level of gender equality. 

The Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Index is an annual reminder that freedom and economic liberty lead to an overall increase in well-being for all economic classes and demographics. Freedom is the vehicle that drives economic success, physical health, and overall happiness; the index shows that the most effective way to improve quality of life is more freedom and fewer government restrictions.