Economic Freedom Takes Step Back

Published January 19, 2012

The 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, published Jan. 12 by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, shows a decline in economic freedom in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and much of Europe.

Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner attributes much of the decline to growing government regulatory burdens and economic “stimulus” spending that seems to benefit only the politically well-connected.

The Index shows:

  • Canada, the United States, Mexico, and 31 of the 43 countries in Europe have been losing economic freedom.
  • The United States’ economic freedom score dropped to 76.3 in 2012 from 81.2 in 2007 (on a scale of 0-100). The United States ranked Number 10 on the scale. Neighboring Canada ranked Number 6.
  • Total U.S. government expenditures have grown to a level equivalent to more than 40 percent of gross domestic product, and total government debt exceeds the size of the economy.

The report did note some good news—for some countries other than the United States:

  • Economic freedom is growing in much of Asia and Africa.
  • Four Asia-Pacific economies—Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand—top the Index of Economic Freedom this year.
  • Eleven of the 46 economies in sub-Saharan Africa gained at least a full point on the index’s economic freedom scale. Mauritius ranked in 8th place, the highest ranking ever achieved by an African country and two spots ahead of the United States.

Internet Info

2012 Index of Economic Freedom: