The Index of Economic Freedom is an annual guide published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation since 1995. The Index covers 10 freedoms – from property rights to entrepreneurship – in 186 countries.

We measure economic freedom based on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom:

Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption);
Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending);
Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and
Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).

The world economy is “moderately free,” with another rise in economic liberty leading to a fourth annual global increase. The world average score of 60.7 is the highest recorded in the 22-year history of the Index.

Five economies earned the Index’s designation of “free” (scores of 80 or above), while
the next 87 are classified as “mostly free” (70-79.9) or “moderately free” (60-69.9). Yet the
number of economically “unfree” economies remains high: 62 are considered “mostly unfree”
(50-59.9) and 24 are “repressed” (scores below 50).

Americans continue to lose economic freedom. Following declines in seven of the past eight years, the United States this year has equaled its worst score ever in the Index of Economic Freedom.

It is very instructive with respect to politics to point out when the US economy earned a designation of “free”, and when the US economy earned a designation of “mostly free”. In the 22-year history of the index the only reports that came out with the US economy designated as free appeared in January 2005 thru January 2009. This happened during Republican George W. Bush’s second term. While he never had a filibuster proof Republican majority in the Senate, it was a majority from January 2003 thru January 2007. During Democrat Bill Clinton’s second term and both of Barack Obama’s terms the US economy was designated as mostly free. The overall scores from January 2001 thru January 2004 were higher than the scores during the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, but they were just under the 80 threshold.

The top 10 countries for economic freedom
Hong Kong SAR
New Zealand
United Kingdom

One really cool tool they provide is Graph the Data. You can compare how well countries perform overall and on each of the ten factors. The following images are graphs of Switzerland and the United States from 2006-2016.

US-Swiss overall

US-Swiss Open Mkts

US-Swiss Regulatory

US-Swiss Rule of Law

The overall score can sometimes be misleading. Overall can make performing well on some of the 10 factors mask how awful the performance is for other individual factors. For example, the US is 11th overall, However there are more than 11 countries that perform better than the US with respect to property rights, fiscal freedom, monetary freedom, and investment freedom. The following tables show the US at the bottom of between 20 and 30 countries.

Property Rights

Country Name Property Rights Freedom from Corruption
Denmark 95.0
New Zealand 95.0
Luxembourg 90.0
Ireland 90.0
Netherlands 90.0
Germany 90.0
Estonia 90.0
Hong Kong SAR 90.0
Austria 90.0
United Kingdom 90.0
Switzerland 90.0
Sweden 90.0
Finland 90.0
Singapore 90.0
Australia 90.0
Canada 90.0
Norway 90.0
Iceland 90.0
Chile 85.0
Belgium 80.0 76.0
Japan 80.0 76.0
United States 80.0 74.0

Monetary Freedom

Country Name Monetary Freedom
New Zealand 88.1
Switzerland 87.8
Sweden 87.1
Ireland 85.5
Australia 85.2
Latvia 84.8
Lithuania 84.6
Malaysia 84.5
Denmark 84.4
Israel 84.2
Czech Republic 84.1
Netherlands 83.4
Germany 83.3
Taiwan> 83.2
Luxembourg 83.2
Chile 82.9
South Korea 82.6
Estonia 82.2
Finland 81.9
Hong Kong SAR 81.8
Singapore 81.8
Austria 81.7
United Arab Emirates 81.3
Japan 81.2
Georgia 80.5
Saint. Lucia 80.3
Colombia 79.6
Iceland 79.5
Mauritius 78.7
Bahamas 78.5
United States 77.0

Investment Freedom

Country Name Investment Freedom Trade Freedom
Luxembourg 95
Hong Kong SAR 90
Denmark 90
Netherlands 90
Estonia 90
United Kingdom 90
Ireland 90
Germany 90
Austria 90
Switzerland 85
Singapore 85
Macau 85
Israel 85
Sweden 85
Finland 85
Latvia 85
Chile 85
Mauritius 80
Georgia 80
Lithuania 80
Czech Republic 80
New Zealand 80
Canada 80
Australia 80
Colombia 80
Norway 75
Taiwan 75
Iceland 70 87.8
United States 70 87

Fiscal Freedom

Country Name Fiscal Freedom
Bahrain 99.9
Qatar 99.7
Bahamas 97.9
United Arab Emirates 95.0
Lithuania 92.9
Hong Kong SAR 92.6
Mauritius 92.0
Singapore 91.2
Georgia 87.6
Malaysia 85.0
Latvia 84.8
Czech Republic 82.5
Estonia 81.9
Colombia 80.1
Canada 80.0
Botswana 79.1
Saint. Lucia 76.9
Taiwan 76.1
Chile 74.8
South Korea 73.8
Ireland 73.6
Iceland 73.3
Macau 73.1
New Zealand 71.0
Switzerland 70.9
Japan 68.5
United States 65.6

The bottom line is that our country need not remain in the doldrums with respect to economic freedom. we had a strong and free economic freedom in 2006, and we can do it again once we remove the garbage we have in Washington DC.


I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.