For Immediate Release
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INDEX: CENTRAL, SOUTH AMERICA SHOW MIXED PROGRESS ON ECONOMIC FREEDOM
Argentina slides most in region; Chile remains 7th in world ranking
WASHINGTON, JAN. 14, 2014—The South and Central America/Caribbean region made gains in economic freedom last year, but corruption and weak property rights damped its progress in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation.
With 29 economies, the region is one of the world’s most diverse, economically as well as politically. This year, 17 countries recorded better scores in the Index while 12 countries charted declines.
Launched in 1995, the Index evaluates countries in four broad areas of economic freedom: rule of law; regulatory efficiency; limited government; and open markets. Based on its aggregate score, each of 178 countries graded in the 2014 Index is classified as “free” (i.e., combined scores of 80 or higher); “mostly free” (70-79.9); “moderately free” (60-69.9); “mostly unfree” (50-59.9); or “repressed” (under 50).
South and Central America/Caribbean performed better than the world averages in four of the 10 components of economic freedom, including fiscal freedom and investment freedom. But, the Index authors noted, “long-standing issues with poor governance and weak rule of law” make the region decidedly less free than North America or Europe.
Chile, which retained its seventh-place ranking in the 2014 Index with a score of 78.7, is one of the two highest-ranking developing countries in the Index. Suriname, though “mostly unfree,” had the best increase in the region (2.2 points), followed by Guyana (a 1.9 point increase).
Cuba made a slight gain in economic freedom but remains the least-free economy in the region. Already “repressed” Argentina, meanwhile, turned in the region’s largest decline, finishing with an Index score of 44.6. Belize, which last year showed the biggest decline in the world, slowed its continued downtrend by one-sixth of a point.
All but six countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean scored as “mostly free,” “moderately free,” or “mostly unfree.” The Dominican Republic rose from “mostly unfree” to “moderately free.” Colombia advanced 1.1 points, lifting it into the ranks of the “mostly free” for the first time.
The world average score of 60.3—seven-tenths of a point above the 2013 average—is the highest average in the two-decade history of the Index, the editors note. Forty-three countries, including Singapore and Sweden, achieved their highest scores yet in the 2014 Index. Among the 178 countries ranked, scores improved for 114 countries and declined for 59. Only four recorded no score change.
The 2014 Index was edited by Ambassador Terry Miller, director of Heritage’s Center for International Trade and Economics; Anthony B. Kim, senior policy analyst in the Center for International Trade and Economics; and Kim Holmes, Ph.D., Heritage’s Distinguished Fellow. Copies of the Index (490 pages, $24.95) may be ordered online at www.heritage.org/index or by calling 1-800-975-8625. The full text, including charts and graphs, also is available online.
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