This year's report notes that economic freedom suffered its
first setback in decades. The average economic freedom score rose
from 5.55 (out of 10) in 1980 to 6.70 in 2007, but fell back to
6.67 in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. Of
the 123 countries with chain-linked ratings in 2007 and 2008, 88
exhibited rating decreases and only 35 recorded rating increases.
In this year's index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for
economic freedom, 9.05 out of 10, followed by Singapore, New
Zealand, Switzerland, Chile, the United States, Canada, Australia,
Mauritius, and the United Kingdom.
This year's report also contains new research showing the impact of
economic freedom on unemployment rates and homicides. According to
Horst Feldmann, more economic freedom appears to reduce
joblessness, and the magnitude of the effect seems to be
substantial, especially among young people. Edward Peter Stringham
and John Levendis examine the effect of economic freedom on rates
of homicide in Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa, Latvia, and
Lithuania. The results suggest that increases in economic freedom
lead to decreases in homicides.
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 14th edition of Economic
Freedom of the World and this year's publication ranks 141 nations
for 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.
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