Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.
In new research published in this year's report, economist William Easterly of New York University compares the impact of economic freedom and foreign aid on economic growth in the poorest nations. Demonstrating that foreign aid has no positive impact on economic growth in the poorest nations, Easterly's research shows that economic freedom has a positive impact on prosperity and helping lift nations out of poverty.
The first Economic Freedom of the World report, published in 1996, was the result of a decade of research by a team which included several Nobel Laureates and over 60 other leading scholars in a broad range of fields, from economics to political science, and from law to philosophy. This is the 10th edition of Economic Freedom of the World. This year's publication ranks 130 nations for 2004, the most recent year for which data are available.