Toronto – Canada is no longer one of the 10 freest countries in the world, having dropped from fourth to 11th in the new Human Freedom Index, released last Thursday by the Fraser Institute and a network of international public policy think-tanks.
The United States, which ranked 24th last year, climbed to 17th in the most recent report, which uses 79 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms to rank 159 countries and territories around the world.
“The Human Freedom Index measures the degree to which people are free to enjoy civil liberties – freedom of speech, religion, women’s rights, association and assembly and economic freedoms,” said Fred McMahon, the Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and editor of the report.
“While Canada’s ranking on personal freedoms improved one spot to 14th this year, economic freedom declined markedly in Canada from 5th to 11th on the index. Higher taxes, growing regulation and increased government intervention have made Canadians materially less economically free,” McMahon added.
Switzerland is now the world’s freest country, having overtaken Hong Kong (2nd) atop the rankings. Other notable countries include: Germany (16), Japan (27), France (33), Mexico (73), India (102), Russia (126) and China (130).
For the past two years, Hong Kong led the rankings as the freest jurisdiction in the world, largely as a result of the city’s score in economic freedom.
“Hong Kong’s fall from the top of the Human Freedom Index this year could indicate China is encroaching on its one-country, two-system relationship and the people of Hong Kong are materially less free because of it,” McMahon said.
Crucially, people in freer countries earn more money than those who live in less-free countries. For example, the average per capita income for the top-quartile countries on the index was US $38,871 compared to just US $10,346 for the least-free quartile in 2015, the most recent year of available comparable data in the freedom index.
“The evidence is clear – when people are free, they have much greater opportunity to prosper,” McMahon said.
The complete index, a joint project of the Fraser Institute, Germany’s Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Cato Institute in the U.S., is available as a free PDF download at www.fraserinstitute.org.
The Human Freedom Index (HFI) presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. This third annual index uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:
• Rule of Law
• Security and Safety
• Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
• Expression and Information
• Identity and Relationships
• Size of Government
• Legal System and Property Rights
• Access to Sound Money
• Freedom to Trade Internationally
• Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business