September 11, 2015 Print

Hong Kong again ranks at the top of the “Economic Freedom of the World: 2015 Annual Report,” released this week by the Fraser Institute, an Atlas Network partner in Canada. Hong Kong is followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, and Canada, with the United Kingdom and Chile tied for 10th.

“Hong Kong’s still number one, but because democracy is the best safeguard of freedom, if China, which ranks low in economic freedom, encroaches on Hong Kong, we can expect Hong Kong’s ranking to fall,” said Fred McMahon, the Fraser Institute’s Dr. Michael A. Walker research chair in economic freedom. The report, which is based on data from 2013, the most recent year available, measures the economic freedom by analysing the policies and institutions of 157 countries and territories. Metrics include levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property, and the rule of law.

“Economic freedom breeds prosperity, and the most economically free countries offer the highest quality of life while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens,” McMahon said.

Other notable rankings include Japan (26), Germany (29), Russia (99), China (111) and India (114).

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 because of the lack of available data.

Globally, the average economic freedom score rose slightly to 6.86 out of 10 from 6.84 last year.

According to research in top peer-reviewed journals, people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer lives.

For example, countries in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of USD $38,601 in 2013, compared to USD $6,986 for bottom quartile nations.

Moreover, the average 2013 income of USD $9,881 for the poorest 10 percent in the most economically free countries dwarfed the overall average income of USD $1,629 for the least free countries. Life expectancy is 80.1 years in the top quartile of countries, compared to only 63.1 years in the bottom quartile.

The Fraser Institute produces the annual “Economic Freedom of the World” report in cooperation with the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in 90 nations and territories. It’s the world’s premier measurement of economic freedom, 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, labor and business.

Read the full “Economic Freedom of the World” report.

Watch the “Economic Freedom of the World” video.