NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The World's Most Free Countries: United States No Longer in Top Ten

October 10, 2014

The Cato Institute has produced its annual "Economic Freedom of the World" index, and the results are troubling. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute reports the United States is no longer among the top 10 countries; it has fallen to twelfth place, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Chile and Finland.

The United States' decline has been swift; it was ranked the second freest nation in the world in just 2000. The rankings are calculated after assessing the size of government, a country's legal structure, access to sound money, free trade and regulation. Tanner explains why the United States has fallen so far down the list:

  • The size of American government is only growing, and while it is not as large as some European governments, it is bigger than governments in Brazil and Mexico. The United States ranked 46th based on government size.
  • In terms of free trade, the United States fell into 29th place.
  • In 2005, the United States was scored as having the best sound money policy in the world. But, thanks to years of quantitative easing, America ranked 38th in the latest freedom index.
  • In 1980, the United States ranked as having the best legal system and system of property rights, and it was still in the top 10 as of 2000. But in the latest report, the United States has fallen to 36th place, based on the use of eminent domain, an increase in property seizures and property rights violations as a result of the auto bailout.
  • While the United States ranked in the top 10 for regulation, it has dropped in recent years; in 2000, the United States was in second place.  

Tanner reminds readers the economic freedom index does not take into account a number of non-economic freedom issues: the surveillance state, police militarization and a growing and intrusive government bureaucracy.

Source: Michael Tanner, "Land of the Free?" National Review, October 8, 2014.

 

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