NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Repression Fosters Terrorism

November 12, 2001

The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have just published their latest edition of the annual Index of Economic Freedom. As usual, it demonstrates a high correlation between economic freedom and economic growth.

But this year, as the authors note, it also underscores that economically free countries exhibit greater tolerance and civility than economically repressed ones -- where hopelessness and isolation foment fanaticism and terrorism.

  • The world's largest concentration of economic repression -- Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya -- is also a primitive hotbed of terrorism.
  • Egypt and Yemen are "mostly unfree" -- while Afghanistan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Somalia are all so void of a rule of law that the index authors find them impossible to analyze.
  • The good news is that economic liberty has expanded again for the eighth straight year -- with 73 countries receiving better scores than last year, worse scores for 53, and unchanged for 27.
  • Of the 156 countries numerically graded in the 2002 index, 71 are either "free" or "mostly free," while 85 are "mostly unfree" or "repressed."

The index rates Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand the three freest countries on the face of the Earth. The U.S. comes in fourth -- tied with Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

North America and Europe remain the world's freest regions -- but France's score is worse this year due to further government economic intervention.

Latin America and the Caribbean was the only region that did not experience a net gain in economic freedom this year.

Source: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. and Kim R. Holmes (both of the Heritage Foundation) and Mary Anastasia O'Grady (Wall Street Journal), "Economic Repression Breeds Terrorism," Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2001.


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