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The US Is Only the 11th Freest Economy in the World

by Thomas Ressler

The United States still lags a number of other developed nations in economic freedom, according to a new report from the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute in Canada, and more than 70 other think tanks around the world. The Economic Freedom of the World report gauges the extent to which the policies and institutions of various nations support economic freedom, the cornerstones of which ar a personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to enter markets and compete, and security of the person and privately-owned property.

“Hong Kong and Singapore retain the top two positions with a score of 8.97 and 8.81 out of 10, respectively,” Cato said. “The rest of this year’s top scores are New Zealand, 8.48; Switzerland, 8.44; Ireland, 8.19; the United Kingdom, 8.05; Mauritius, 8.04; Georgia, 8.01; Australia, 7.99; and Estonia, 7.95.” Meanwhile, the US, for decades among the top four countries in the index, now ranks 11th, along with Canada.

This compares with the rankings of other large economies in this year’s index as follows: Germany (23rd), South Korea (32nd), Japan (39th), France (52nd), Italy (54th), Mexico (76th), India (95th), Russia (100th), China (112th), and Brazil (137th). “The 10 lowest-rated countries are: Iran, Chad, Myanmar, Syria, Libya, Argentina, Algeria, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and, lastly, Venezuela,” Cato said.

The report also emphasizes that economically free nations outperform nations that are not free in indicators of well-being. For instance: “Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of $42,463 in 2015, compared to $6,036 for bottom quartile nations,” the report said. Also, in the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10 percent was $11,998, compared to $1,124 in the bottom quartile in 2015. And life expectancy is 80.7 years in the top quartile versus 64.4 years in the bottom quartile.

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