by James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, Joshua Hall
October 02, 2013
The index published in Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property. Forty-two variables are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas: size of Government; legal system and property rights; sound money; freedom to trade internationally; and regulation. In order to receive a high EFW rating, a country must provide secure protection of privately owned property, even-handed enforcement of contracts, and a stable monetary environment. It also must keep taxes low, refrain from creating barriers to both domestic and international trade, and rely more fully on markets rather than government spending and regulation to allocate goods and resources. The United States comes in 17th.