Heritage: U.S. drops out of top 10 in economic freedom

The United States has dropped is no longer in the 10 top freest economies in the world, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, a joint annual study from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that offers a look at the economies of 178 countries.

Economic freedom in the United States has declined each year since President Barack Obama took office, from 6th in 2009 to 12th in 2014. The researchers explained that new financial and healthcare regulations have “contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.”

“Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically ‘free’ in 2006,” note the researchers. “Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.”

“The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years,” they added.

Hong Kong has the freest economy in the world, thanks to its fiscal freedom as well as its strong commitment to private property rights, open markets, and free trade. Researchers note that the Chinese protectorate also has a “highly motivated workforce and a high level of labor freedom,” which, they explain, “have added to Hong Kong’s economic dynamism and resilience.”

Hong Kong is followed by Singapore, Austrailia, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Canada. Rounding out the top 10 freest economies in the world — those which are ranked as “mostly free” — are Chile, Mauritius, Ireland, and Denmark.

Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Estonia is ranked 11th, just one spot ahead of the United States. Though strong on property rights as well as fiscal and trade freedom, the eastern European country scores low on labor freedom and government spending.

North Korea has the least free economy in the world, followed by Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Eritrea. These are countries that have little regard for private property rights and free trade. They’re also rampant with corruption in government.

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