• Mapped: The State of Economic Freedom in 2023

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    Mapped: The State of Economic Freedom in 2023
    Published 4 months ago on June 6, 2023
    By Avery Koop
    Joyce Ma
    map of economic freedom worldwide in 2023

    ▼ Use This Visualization
    Mapped: The State of Economic Freedom in 2023
    The concept of economic freedom serves as a vital framework for
    evaluating the extent to which individuals and businesses have the
    freedom to make economic decisions. In countries with low economic
    freedom, governments exert coercion and constraints on liberties,
    restricting choice for individuals and businesses, which can ultimately
    hinder prosperity.

    The map above uses the annual Index of Economic Freedom from the
    Heritage Foundation to showcase the level of economic freedom in every
    country worldwide on a scale of 0-100, looking at factors like property
    rights, tax burdens, labor freedom, and so on.

    The ranking categorizing scores of 80+ as free economies, 70-79.9 as
    mostly free, 60-69.9 as moderately free, 50-59.9 as mostly unfree, and
    0-49.9 as repressed.

    Measuring Economic Freedom
    This ranking uses four broad categories with three key indicators each,
    both qualitative and quantitative, to measure economic freedom.

    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
    The 12 indicators are weighted equally and scored from 0-100. The
    overall score is then determined from the average of the 12 indicators.

    Here’s a closer look at every country’s score:

    Rank Country 2023 Score
    #1 🇸🇬 Singapore 83.9
    #2 🇨🇭 Switzerland 83.8
    #3 🇮🇪 Ireland 82.0
    #4 🇹🇼 Taiwan 80.7
    #5 🇳🇿 New Zealand 78.9
    #6 🇪🇪 Estonia 78.6
    #7 🇱🇺 Luxembourg 78.4
    #8 🇳🇱 Netherlands 78.0
    #9 🇩🇰 Denmark 77.6
    #10 🇸🇪 Sweden 77.5
    Showing 1 to 10 of 180 entriesPreviousNext
    Only four countries in the world have a score of 80 or above, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, and Taiwan, categorizing them as completely free economically.

    Let’s now look at things from a more regional perspective.

    map of economic freedom in europe

    From a regional perspective, Europe ranks the strongest in economic

    Despite being a powerhouse within Europe, Germany ranks 10th in the
    continent, with a score of 73.7. One of the categories Germany scored
    the weakest in was government spending (28.3/100). Over the last three
    years, government spending has averaged 49% of GDP.

    Ireland ranks third globally, scoring particularly high in categories
    like property rights and judicial effectiveness. The country also has no minimum capital requirement—which is typically a banking regulation and corporate law issue determining how many assets an organization must hold—making it attractive for businesses to set up shop on the Emerald Isle.

    map of economic freedom in Africa in 2023

    Currently, Africa is the continent with the least economic freedom in
    the world, however, it is also the region with the highest potential for economic growth. A booming population, and thus, labor force, are
    promising for future innovation. In fact, it’s anticipated that Africa
    will see an increase of 2.5 billion people by the end of the century.

    The lowest scoring country in Africa is Sudan, a country under further
    strain thanks to rife civil conflict. Historically, economic development
    has been constrained by rampant corruption and a lack of institutional capacity.

    Conversely, Botswana registered the highest score on continental Africa
    (64.9), ranking higher than countries like France and Italy.

    The Americas
    map of economic freedom in the americas in 2023

    In the Americas, the United States ranks 3rd regionally—25th
    overall—with a score of 70.6. The report attributes the categorization
    of U.S. as only “mostly free” to issues like inflation, increasing government debt, and unchecked deficit spending. Public debt currently
    sits at a figure equivalent to more than 128% of GDP.

    In South America, Chile comes out on top, ranking above many other
    economic powerhouses like the U.S., the UK, and Japan. However, the 2021 election of a new Constitutional Assembly could risk the current
    economic state, as it favors a much more socialist approach to the economy.

    East Asia and Oceania
    map of economic freedom in asia and oceania in 2023

    China’s score is among the lowest in East Asia & Oceania, ranking 154th
    in the world categorizing it as a repressed economy. The ruling Chinese Communist Party routinely exercises direct control over economic
    activity. China’s protectionist stance towards foreign investment and a plethora of trade tariffs imposed by other nations also factor in here.

    In India, where public debt is equivalent to about 84% of GDP, fiscal
    health is the worst-scoring category. Additionally, much of the economy
    remains quite informal; a large share of people work in jobs without tax
    slips, recorded income, or formal contracts protecting them, which
    challenges labor freedoms.

    The Middle East and Central Asia
    map of economic freedom in the middle east and central asia in 2023

    It may come as no surprise that the United Arab Emirates has the highest
    score in the Middle East. The UAE has implemented various measures and initiatives, such as tax exemptions, duty-free zones, streamlined
    business registration processes, and flexible regulatory frameworks to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment. As well, the
    top individual and corporate tax rates in the country are 0%.

    Türkiye’s lowest scoring category relates to judiciary effectiveness and
    the rule of law. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has already been in
    power for two decades, recently won the country’s election, again
    cementing his authority over Turkish politics. This makes it unlikely
    that Türkiye’s economic freedom score will recover in the short to
    medium term.

    Where Does This Data Come From?

    Source: The Index of Economic Freedom from the Heritage Foundation

    Data notes: A number of countries were not ranked due to unavailable
    data or other factors, like ongoing war, that made it difficult to
    properly assess the economy. These countries include: Ukraine,
    Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Liechtenstein, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

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