July 16, 2004
Hong Kong has the freest economy in the world, with an index score of 8.7 out of a possible 10, closely followed by Singapore at 8.6. The index scores in the Cato Institute/Fraser Institute-sponsored "Economic Freedom of the World: 2004 Annual Report" allow countries to be ranked according to the degree to which their policies and institutions are supportive of personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.
The more economically free a country is, the greater the prosperity of its citizens, say the authors. According to the report:
- New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States tied for third with ratings of 8.2; the other top 10 nations are Australia, Canada, Ireland and Luxembourg.
- The rankings of other large economies are Germany, 22; Japan and Italy, 36; France, 44; Mexico, 58; India, 68; Brazil, 74; China, 90; and Russia, 114.
Most of the lowest-ranking nations are African, Latin American, or former communist states:
- Botswana's ranking of 18 is by far the best among continental sub-Saharan African nations.
- Chile, with the best record in Latin America, was tied with four other nations at 22.
The bottom five nations were Venezuela, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar; however, a number of other nations for which data are not available, such as North Korea and Cuba, may have even less economic freedom.
Source: James Gwartney and Robert Lawson, "Economic Freedom of the World: 2004 Annual Report," Cato Institute/Fraser Institute, July 15, 2004.
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