Hong Kong is once again the most economically free jurisdiction in the world, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World Report. The report measures the economic freedom (levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property, rule of law, etc.) by analyzing the policies and institutions of 151 countries and Hong Kong. Co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute in Canada, and more than 70 think tanks around the world, this is the 19th edition of Economic Freedom of the World and this year’s publication ranks 157 nations for 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.
Global economic freedom fell slightly in this year’s report, and it remains well below its peak level of 6.92 in 2007. The average score fell to 6.84 in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.98 out of 10. The rest of this year’s top scores are Singapore, 8.54; New Zealand, 8.25; Switzerland, 8.19; Mauritius, 8.09; United Arab Emirates, 8.05; Canada, 8.00; Australia, 7.87; Jordan, 7.86; and, tied for 10th at 7.84, Chile and Finland.
The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 12th in the world, tied with the United Kingdom at 7.81. Due to a weakening rule of law, increasing regulation, and the ramifications of wars on terrorism and drugs, the United States has seen its economic freedom score plummet in recent years, compared to 2000 when it ranked second globally.
James Gwartney holds the Gus A. Stavros Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida State University, where he directs the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education. He is a coauthor of Economics: Private and Public Choice (Cengage/South-Western Press), a widely used text on the principles of economics that is now in its twelfth edition. He is also a coauthor of an economics primer, Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2005).
Robert A. Lawson is Associate Professor in the Department of Finance at Auburn University where he is Co-Director of the Center for International Finance and Global Competitiveness and Director of the Economic Freedom Initiative. Professor Lawson has numerous professional publications in journals such as Public Choice, Cato Journal, Kyklos, Journal of Labor Research, Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, and European Journal of Political Economy. He has served as president of the Association of Private Enterprise Education and is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society.
Joshua Hall is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and Management at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. Formerly an economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress, he has published numerous policy studies and professional publications. Professor Hall’s research has appeared in journals such as the Atlantic Economic Journal, Cato Journal, Journal of Economic Education, and Journal of Labor Research.