NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Seventh Edition Of "Index Of Economic Freedom" Appears

November 1, 2000

The number of free or mostly free economies in the world has increased throughout the seven years the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal have published their annual "Index of Economic Freedom." But unfree economies still outnumber those that are basically free.

  • Eighty-one of the world's economies remain mostly unfree or repressed, compared to 74 deemed to be free or mostly free.
  • The average man, woman or child living in a repressed or mostly unfree economy subsists on about $2,800 a year -- compared to an average per capita income of $21,200 in countries having free or mostly free economies.
  • Twenty-four countries in North America and Europe improved their score this year -- with Lithuania catapulting to 42nd place from 61st last year; neighboring Estonia, of all the former communist countries, came closest to realizing a fully free economy.
  • Among Latin American and Caribbean countries, El Salvador improved enough to be rated "free" for the first time -- but not only did Venezuela's score worsen last year, it has one of the worst records in the seven-year history of the Index.

Other regions of the world present a more mixed picture.

  • Economic freedom declined overall in North Africa and the Middle East, with Syria, Iran, Iraq and Libya continuing to fall in the "repressed" categories.
  • While Sub-Saharan Africa showed a net improvement this year, the region remains the world's most economically unfree.
  • Hong Kong continues to be ranked the freest of all the world's economies, with the Asia-Pacific region having four of the world's freest economies and six of its most repressed -- the latter being Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and North Korea.

Source: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. and Kim R. Holmes (both of the Heritage Foundation); with Melanie Kirkpatrick (Wall Street Journal); "Who's Free, Who's Not," Wall Street Journal; November 1, 2000.


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