According to the annual Economic Freedom of the World report, the United States has dropped to #16 in an index of economic freedom.
The list, released by the Fraser Institute, ranks countries around the world by a number of different factors that include the size and scope of government: expenditures, taxes, enterprises, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation of credit, labor, and business were all evaluated.
The study also considered income levels and poverty rates.
“The cornerstones of economic freedom are (1) personal choice, (2) voluntary exchange coordinated by markets, (3) freedom to enter and compete in markets, and (4) protection of persons and their property from aggression by others.
“Economic freedom is present when individuals are permitted to choose for themselves and engage in voluntary transactions as long as they do not harm the person or property of others.”
At the top of the list was Hong Kong, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, and Canada. The United Kingdom and Chile tied at #10. The United States followed behind at #16, continuing a downward trend that has grown for several years.
These rankings are not just a matter of opinion, either. It can be empirically proven that these numbers strongly correlate with important quality of life indicators.
For example, as the Fraser Institute documents, places with increases in economic freedom have seen an increase in literacy rates, average income, and lifespan.
In countries where economic freedom has declined, there has also been a corresponding decline in literacy rates, average income, and lifespan.
The report also noted that:
“Nowhere has the reversal of the rising trend in the economic freedom been more evident than in the United States. Throughout the period from 1970 to 2000, the United States ranked as the world’s freest OECD nation (generally the third freest economy overall behind only Hong Kong and Singapore).
“The chain-linked summary rating of the United States in 2000 was 8.65. By 2005, the US rating had slipped to 8.22. The slide has continued. The 7.73 chain-linked rating of the United States in 2013 was more than 0.9 of a unit lower than the 2000 rating.
“Thus, the decline in economic freedom in the United States has been more than three times greater than the average decline found in the OECD [emphasis added].”
While the U.S. has never had a truly free economy, the new study makes it evident that Americans have far less economic freedom and opportunity than they did in the year 2000.
Now that economic conditions are even worse in the U.S. than they were before, a culture of extreme economic control has taken over and exacerbated the growing recession — one that history may end up redesignating a depression.