The Heritage Foundation has released the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom.
The Heritage Foundation is a large public policy research organization which seeks “to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” For more than a decade, the Foundation, in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, has published the international Index of Economic Freedom, which is intended to track the state of economic freedom on a global basis.
For purposes of scoring individual nations, the index measures “ten components of economic freedom [business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption, and labor freedom], assigning a grade in each using a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 represents the maximum freedom. The ten component scores are then averaged to give an overall economic freedom score for each country.”
These measures are, then, collectively intended to quantify Economic Freedom, which the Foundation defines as “the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”
In this year’s ranking the United States ranks 8th, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and Canada.
For a complete listing of the 183 countries and their respective scores, in rank order, see Ranking the Countries. For a global map summarizing the country scores graphically, see Distribution of Economic Freedom. For an eight-page précis of the most salient points of the study, see Executive Highlights. To download a copy of the full 486-page report, see this page.