Reported State of ‘Economic Freedom’
Economic freedom shapes our lives. Did you know the word ‘freedom’ comes from an old term for ‘liberty’? And ‘economic freedom’? It means we’re free to work and trade without too much government control.
The story in our current reality is that freedom, or its absence, drives prosperity or stagnates growth. The Heritage Foundation’s 2023 Index of Economic Freedom ranks countries on economic ‘freedom’, ranging from 0 to 100, as determined by:
- Rule of law: property rights, judicial effectiveness, government integrity
- Size of government: tax burdens, fiscal health, government spending
- Regulatory efficiency: labor freedom, monetary freedom, business freedom
- Open markets: financial freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom
According to this index, Singapore tops this list as the world’s freest economy. The study claims that its regulatory environment welcomes businesses and has a low unemployment rates. And let’s note that Singapore is also one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Four countries score over 80. They are Singapore (83.9), Switzerland (83.8), Ireland (82) and Taiwan (80.7). Europe scores highest in economic freedom. Yet, Germany, a key player, only ranks 10th in Europe with a score of 73.7. High government spending drags Germany down.
A Global Map of Economic Freedom?
On the flip side, Africa grapples with the least economic freedom, despite its considerable potential for economic growth propelled by its booming population and labor force. At the continent’s helm, Botswana holds a score of 64.9, surpassing France and Italy. While on the other hand, Sudan “sits at the bottom with persisting civil conflicts and corruption hindering its economic development.”
In the Americas, Canada is top ranked “for a strong court system that protects the rule of law.” And, the United States ranks third regionally and 25th globally, hindered by inflation, mounting government debt, and unchecked deficit spending, with public debt escalating. South America sees Chile outperforming many economic giants. It scores higher than the US, UK, and Japan.
Not surprisingly, China scores low in East Asia and Oceania. The ruling party controls the economy. Protectionism and trade tariffs also hurt. India faces fiscal health problems, with public debt around 84% of GDP.
The United Arab Emirates leads in the Middle East. Tax exemptions and duty-free zones attract businesses. Business registration is easy, and regulations are flexible. Turkey struggles with weak judiciary and rule of law issues. No freedom data exists for places like Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Others face war, like Syria and Yemen.
Studies like the 2023 Index of Economic Freedom show us what exists, but not what could be. They tell large-scale stories that often skip the finer points. Those details? They’re ours to bring to life and shape our own meaning of freedom. These studies focus on the past, and they miss out on future essentials like new job creation and systems we truly need.
Sure, a country’s score blends elements like tax rates and property rights. But these numbers fail to reflect our current needs and dreams for a healthier future. Imagine if we each forged our own path towards economic freedom, creating stories where we matter?
These studies outline big problems like corruption and debt. But the true spirit of economic freedom shows up when we concentrate on individual actions. It’s about us making choices, building our lives, and shaping our own economic freedom, one decision at a time. It’s even more about crafting truly healthy systems that give us real freedom.
Each decision we make not only shapes our journey, but also adds to the larger economic picture. Every choice, no matter how tiny, is a piece of the broader puzzle of economic freedom. And it impacts our personal and group health. We should ask ourselves: why are we here? What are we hoping to create in this precious life?
Outdated thinking and superficial ranking systems keep spreading myths. But, is this what we really need? Maybe we’re not here to merely become a statistic.