2023 Index of Economic Freedom: World Economy Ranks “Mostly Unfree” Rating; US Economic Freedom Score Hits All-Time Low

2023 Index of Economic Freedom: World Economy Ranks “Mostly Unfree” Rating; US Economic Freedom Score Hits All-Time Low

Feb 27, 2023 3 min read

WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation today released the 2023 edition of its annual Index of Economic Freedom. The new report shows economic freedom deteriorating across the globe. The world economy, taken as a whole, has become “mostly unfree.” Regrettably, the global average economic freedom score has fallen from the previous year’s 60.0 to 59.3—the lowest it has been over the past two decades. 

Singapore held its position as the world’s most-free economy, Switzerland followed closely behind at second, and Ireland (3), Taiwan (4), and New Zealand (5) rounded out the top five. 

The United States continued its decline in economic freedom, recording a score of 70.6, a 1.5 decrease in freedom score from 2022 and its lowest score in the history of the Index. The U.S. maintained its global ranking of 25th freest in the 2023 Index after falling from 20th to 25th in 2022. The report points to the Biden administration’s ill-informed economic and entrepreneurial policies and unchecked deficit spending for leaving the U.S. economy in flux.  

North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Sudan, and Zimbabwe remained the world’s least economically free nations.

Dr. Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation, said of the 2023 Index:  

“This year’s ‘Index of Economic Freedom’ reveals just how fragile the world’s economy has become. 

 

"The world and America are at a crossroads. Too many countries have renounced basic economic principles leaving communities to suffer the consequences. They must choose either the narrow path of self-governance, human dignity, and ordered liberty, or the broad path of an economy run by the managerial elite with no room for dissent or responsibility. One path leads to prosperity, and the other leads to ruin.”  

Anthony Kim, research fellow and editor of the Index of Economic Freedom at The Heritage Foundation, added:  

“As documented once again in the 2023 Index, economic freedom is both valuable as an end itself and a vital component of human dignity, autonomy, and personal empowerment.  

 

“This is why the "repressed” economy of the Communist Chinese Party ranked 154th out of 176 countries. The country’s low rating exposes a badly flawed economic and political governance model that has been unambiguously elevated over the past five years by the authoritarian political ideology and loyalty to the regime. America and its willing allies still have time to counter China’s anti-freedom influence, but Washington cannot win the battle of ideas without prioritizing economic freedom. 

 

“As documented once again in the 2023 index, economic freedom correlates significantly with overall well-being, which includes such factors as health, education, the environment, innovation, societal progress, and democratic governance. On these critical public policy implications, it should be reminded that economic freedom—not the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda—makes America and the world cleaner, safer, and better governed. The true path to ensuring environmental, social, and governance improvements lies in focusing on policies that enhance economic freedom.” 

Launched in 1995, the Index evaluates countries in four broad policy areas that affect economic freedom: rule of law; government size; regulatory efficiency; and open markets. There are 12 specific categories including property rights, judicial effectiveness, government integrity, tax burden, government spending, fiscal health, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom. Scores in these categories are averaged to create an overall economic freedom score.  

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