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.
This year's report notes that economic freedom remains on the rise. The average economic freedom score rose from 5.1 (out of 10) in 1980 to 6.6 in the most recent year for which data are available. Of the 102 nations with scores in 1980 and in the most recent index, 90 recorded improvements in their economic freedom score, and just nine saw a decline. In this year's index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.9 out of 10, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Is capitalism contagious? If so, to what extent; and how does it spread? In new research published in this year’s report, Russell S. Sobel and Peter T. Leeson examine these questions empirically. They find that economic freedom does in fact spread, although not as strongly as might be suggested by the emphasis this idea has been given in US foreign policy. In the report, Sobel and Leeson discuss the implications of these results for foreign policy and offers some predictions about the future path, and spread, of global economic freedom.
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 11th edition of Economic Freedom of the World. This year's publication ranks 141 nations for 2005, the most recent year for which data are available.