Hong Kong Tops 2013 Economic Freedom Index

Economic freedom has continued to stagnate around the world since its peak in 2008, according to the 19th edition of the Index of Economic Freedom, produced by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

The US ranks 10th in the latest index, its score dropping since 2009 when it went from being ranked a ‘free’ economy to only ‘mostly free’ in 2010.

The ‘top 10’ in the 2013 index of economic freedom – based on “the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labour and property” – are as follows:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. Switzerland
  6. Canada
  7. Chile
  8. Mauritius
  9. Denmark
  10. US

According to the editors of the 2013 index, the US scores on regulatory efficiency, including business freedom and labour freedom, have declined. They write that “over 100 new major federal regulations have been imposed on business operations since early 2009 with annual costs of more than US$46bn.”

The 2013 index grades 177 countries into five classifications – free; mostly free; moderately free; mostly unfree; or repressed and is based on 10 measures – property rights; freedom from corruption; fiscal freedom; government spending; business freedom; labour freedom; monetary freedom; trade freedom; investment freedom; and financial freedom.

After two years of steady improvement, economic freedom in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa has stalled, according to the 2013 index. The region’s overall level of economic freedom “remains weaker than that of any other,” the editors write, with the majority of its countries in the ‘mostly unfree’ or ‘repressed’ categories. Fifteen of the world’s 33 ‘repressed’ economies are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 22 in the next lowest, ‘mostly unfree’ category.

The UK, ranked third when the annual index was first published, steadily declined from sixth position in 2006 to 16th in 2011. It edges up to 14th in this year’s index and is ahead of eurozone neighbours Germany (19th), Spain (46th), France (62nd) and Italy (83rd).


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