The Top 10 Freest Countries In The Word

The Index of Economic Freedom has just released its 2014 numbers, ranking all the countries in the world based on the overall freedom level of their citizens.

The criteria they use are rule of law (property rights, lack of corruption), limited government (government spending, government waste, tax rates, etc), regulatory efficiency (business, labor, and monetary freedoms, how easy it is to start a business, etc), and open markets (tariffs, trade freedom, financial freedom, etc).

Here are the top ten most free countries in the world:

1. Hong Kong

2. Singapore

3. Australia

4. Switzerland

5. New Zealand

6. Canada

7. Chile

8. Mauritius

9. Ireland

10. Denmark.

The United States? Number 12, after Estonia. How funny is it that a former Soviet satellite is more free than we are? England is even worse at 14. How about Germany? 18. Other European and Asian countries just get worse from there. Japan is an embarrassing 25, South Korea even worse at 31. France is a dreadful 70. China is in the dungeon at number 137. Sucks.

You can read the full list here.

Note that 6 of the top 10 are tiny little countries, bolstering a theory I’ve had for a long time that the smaller your country is, the more likely it is to be free. The larger a country grows, the less free it tends to be. The same law also usually applies to cities as well as nations. You’ll experience more individual freedoms living way out in the country than you will downtown in a city of millions of people.

Considering Hong Kong and Singapore are the two countries I’m considering moving to in a few years (or at least spending half the year there), it looks like I chose well. (I was also considering Shanghai at one point, but China’s experiencing the largest economic bubble in human history, so that’s probably out.)

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  • Onyx Jade
    Posted at 11:24 am, 14th February 2014

    I am truly shocked that Australia is up there considering the high amount of income tax + regulation that I saw from my several times I was there. The first 2 clearly make sense though.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 12:23 pm, 14th February 2014

    I thought the same. The problem is the entire planet is so unfree that even most of the the top ten least-worst countries are still quite bad.

  • Onyx Jade
    Posted at 12:53 pm, 15th February 2014

    Makes sense. Their score is quite a bit lower than the first two (82 vs. 89 & 91).

    We’ll see the US plummet more down the scale over the next 4-8 years as we continue to see further regulation punish the wealthy and new businesses. Ironically, I just started reading Atlas Shrugged and notice some of the same rhetoric in the book being used by government officials to describe their views towards the economy. (Obama is most guilty of this)

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 11:39 pm, 15th February 2014

    I noticed the exact same thing when I first read Atlas Shrugged, and that was way before Obama. It’s amazing how similar collectivist rhetoric was in the 50s when that book was written as it is today.

    And yes, the US will continue to plummet on the freedom list. Not only because of new regulations, but also because of a slowly declining economy. Government will enact more laws to “help” the economy, thereby hurting the economy, thereby enacting more laws…

  • borgcollective
    Posted at 08:32 pm, 31st May 2016

    And all of those 10/10 countries have the following things in common: relatively small populations (especially compared to the very large and more populous nations) and their populations tend to be more or less homogeneous.

    Yes, small nations are better at administering, but it’s really the size of the population that matters.

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