What is Economic Freedom?

Economic freedom is the key to greater opportunity and an improved quality of life. It’s the freedom to choose how to produce, sell, and use your own resources, while respecting others’ rights to do the same.  While a simple concept, economic freedom is an engine that drives prosperity in the world and is the difference between why some societies thrive while others do not.

What is Economic Freedom?

Why is it important?

Economic freedom is important because it affects every aspect of an individual’s life. Living in a society with high levels of economic freedom leads to higher incomes, lower poverty, less unemployment, longer life expectancies, and cleaner environments, among a host of other benefits.  More economic freedom improves well-being and leads to a higher quality of life.

How is it measured?

Both the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation have indexes to measure and track economic freedom in the world.

The Fraser Institute’s annual report, The Economic Freedom of the World Report, is produced in partnership with Florida State University and Southern Methodist University, and it analyzes five subcomponents to measure a country’s level of economic freedom. These subcomponents include the size of government based on expenditures and taxes; the legal structure and its protection of property rights; access to sound money; freedom to trade internationally; and regulation of credit, labor, and business. The Fraser Institute also maintains the Economic Freedom Network website, www.freetheworld.com, which contains all previous economic freedom research including regional and sub-national reports and downloadable data sets. See all the different subcomponents on our interactive map.

EF rank overall

The Heritage Foundation, in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, publishes the Index of Economic Freedom, which evaluates various subcomponents of economic freedom, including levels of business, trade, fiscal, monetary, and labor freedom; government spending; and property rights.