The key ingredients of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and the protection of person and property. Economic freedom liberates individuals and families from government dependence and gives them control over their own future. Empirical research shows that economic freedom increases prosperity and also leads to democracy and other freedoms.
A special focus this year by Columbia University political scientist Erik Gartzke shows that economic freedom reduces war: nations with low levels of economic freedom are 14 times more prone to violent conflict than nations with high levels of economic freedom. In his striking study, Gartzke also shows that economic freedom is about 50 times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict. This work has highly important policy implications.
Economic Freedom of the World is the most comprehensive index of economic freedom available. In the ninth edition of this widely acclaimed annual report, James Gwartney and Robert Lawson rank the economic freedom of 127 nations, using strict academic measures appropriate for peer-reviewed research. First published in 1996, the report is the result of more than a decade of research by more than 100 leading scholars. Every year the authors update the data in collaboration with member institutes in 69 nations, making it the most comprehensive measure in the world. Approximately 200 scholarly articles have employed the data developed in this index.