2014 Index of Economic Freedom

Austria

overall score72.4
world rank24
Rule of Law

Property Rights90.0

Freedom From Corruption75.5

Limited Government

Government Spending23.5

Fiscal Freedom51.0

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom76.3

Labor Freedom80.5

Monetary Freedom79.5

Open Markets

Trade Freedom87.8

Investment Freedom90.0

Financial Freedom70.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 8.5 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $359.0 billion
    • 0.8% growth
    • 0.6% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $42,409 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 4.4%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 2.6%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $6.3 billion
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Austria’s economic freedom score is 72.4, making its economy the 24th freest in the 2014 Index. Its score is 0.6 point better than last year due to improved scores for investment freedom, business freedom, and trade freedom. Austria is ranked 14th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is well above the regional and world averages.

Over the 20-year history of the Index, Austria has advanced its economic freedom score by 2.4 points. Recording score improvements of 10 points or more in six of the 10 economic freedoms, including business freedom, investment freedom, and the management of government spending, Austria has gradually become a “mostly free” economy. It has achieved its highest economic freedom score ever in the 2014 Index.

Continuing to sustain Austria’s strong tradition of effective property protection, the legal system is transparent and efficiently maintained. The country’s international orientation and vibrant banking sector have been the backbone of economic expansion. The corporate tax rate is comparatively low, but individuals still face an income tax rate of 50 percent and various other indirect taxes.

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Background

After the 2008 parliamentary elections, the center-left Social Democrats formed a governing coalition with the center-right Austrian People’s Party. Social Democrat Werner Faymann is chancellor. GDP growth has slowed as a result of the eurozone crisis, yet Austria’s economy is still stronger than those of many other EU nations, and unemployment is comparatively low. The government has gradually relinquished control of formerly nationalized oil, gas, steel, and engineering companies and has deregulated telecommunications and electricity. There are large service and industrial sectors and a small, highly developed agricultural industry. The economic impact of record flooding in the past year is expected to be limited and temporary. In 1995, Austria joined the European Union, which is the destination for 70 percent of its exports.

Rule of LawView Methodology

Property Rights 90.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Freedom From Corruption 75.5 Create a Graph using this measurement

Instances of corruption are rare, although several prominent new cases involving government and business corruption were made public and investigated in the past year. The rule of law is respected, and the judiciary is independent. Contractual agreements are enforced effectively, and the protection of intellectual property is strong. The land registry was overhauled in 2012 to speed up registration procedures and reduce costs.

Limited GovernmentView Methodology

The top individual tax rate is 50 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 25 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and a tax on real estate transfers. The overall tax burden is 42.1 percent of total domestic income. Total government spending accounts for just over half of the size of the domestic economy, and public debt is equivalent to about 74 percent of GDP. Bank bailouts put unexpected pressure on the 2012 budget balance.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

The regulatory framework generally facilitates entrepreneurial activity. Launching a business takes eight procedures, but obtaining necessary permits remains time-consuming. Hiring and dismissal regulations are not burdensome, but generous fringe benefits are among the costliest in the world. There is no statutory minimum wage.

Open MarketsView Methodology

EU members have a low 1.1 percent average tariff rate and, in general, few non-tariff barriers to trade. Foreign investment in certain industries, including education and telecommunications, may be screened by the government. Offering a wide range of financial services, the banking sector continues to be competitive and is relatively well-capitalized. The country’s five largest banking groups account for over 50 percent of total assets.

Country's Score Over Time

Bar Graph of Austria Economic Freedom Scores Over a Time Period

Country Comparisons

Bar Graphs comparing Austria to other economic country groups

Regional Ranking

rank country overall change
1Switzerland81.60.6
2Ireland76.20.5
3Denmark76.10.0
4Estonia75.90.6
5United Kingdom74.90.1
6The Netherlands74.20.7
7Luxembourg74.20.0
8Germany73.40.6
9Finland73.4-0.6
10Sweden73.10.2
11Lithuania730.9
12Georgia72.60.4
13Iceland72.40.3
14Austria72.40.6
15Czech Republic72.21.3
16Norway70.90.4
17Belgium69.90.7
18Armenia68.9-0.5
19Latvia68.72.2
20Macedonia68.60.4
21Cyprus67.6-1.4
22Spain67.2-0.8
23Poland671.0
24Hungary 67-0.3
25Albania66.91.7
26Slovakia66.4-2.3
27Malta66.4-1.1
28Bulgaria65.70.7
29Romania65.50.4
30Turkey64.92.0
31Montenegro63.61.0
32Portugal63.50.4
33France63.5-0.6
34Slovenia62.71.0
35Italy60.90.3
36Croatia60.4-0.9
37Serbia 59.40.8
38Bosnia and Herzegovina58.41.1
39Moldova57.31.8
40Greece55.70.3
41Russia51.90.8
42Belarus50.12.1
43Ukraine49.33.0
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