Extract from Press Release
Economic freedom declined worldwide in 2011 as many countries attempted -- without success -- to spend their way out of recession, according to the 18th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released today by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The average economic freedom score for the 2012 Index stands at 59.5 (on a scale in which 100 represents the ideal), down two-tenths of a point from 2011.
Hong Kong and Singapore finished first and second in the rankings for the 18th straight year. Australia and New Zealand ranked third and fourth, and Switzerland fifth. Canada finished sixth, slipping almost a full point and falling out of the group of “free” economies into the “mostly free” category.
Greece’s Index score declined the most, plunging nearly five points to 55.4. This put it in the middle of the pack of “mostly unfree” economies. Many of Greece’s European neighbors also suffered from exploding government budgets; 37 of the 43 European countries ranked in the Index lost ground in the spending category.
The Index also studies economic freedom on a regional basis. In 2011, only the Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific regions advanced. The other regions -- South and Central America/Caribbean, Europe, Middle-East North Africa and North America -- all declined
The Index measures economic freedom in 10 specific categories: labor freedom, business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights and freedom from corruption. Scores in these categories are averaged to create an overall score
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