What is human freedom? Human freedom is an inherently valuable social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals. Individuals should be able to do things that will not be prevented by other forces or that will result in punishment. Human freedom plays a huge role in human progress.
The Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom of 162 countries around the world based on a broad measure that encompasses, economic, civil, and personal freedom. The Human Freedom Index is co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
The report is the most comprehensive freedom index created, using 76 indicators of freedom to measure the freedom of 162 countries using the most recent year for which sufficient data are available. Some of the indicators used are:
- Rule of Law
- Security and Safety
- Identity and Relationships
- Size of Government
- Legal System and Property Rights
- Access to Sound Money
- Freedom to Trade Internationally
- Expression and Information
- Association, Assembly, and Civil Society
The Human Freedom Index places each country on a scale of 0 to 10, where a score of 10 represents the most freedom, for personal freedom and economic freedom. Each country’s human freedom index is an average of the two.
Personal freedom is the freedom of an individual to have freedom of opinion and expression, freedom to come and go, equality before the courts, and security of private property. Economic freedom consists of personal choice, freedom to compete in markets, protection of person and property, voluntary exchange, and allowing people to prosper without intervention from the government or economic authority.
The ten countries with the highest human freedom indexes (the freest countries in the world) are:
- New Zealand 8.88
- Switzerland 8.82
- Hong Kong 8.81
- Canada 8.65
- Australia 8.62
- Denmark 8.56
- Luxembourg 8.56
- Finland 8.53
- Germany 8.53
- Ireland 8.52
The report found a strong relationship between human freedom and democracy. Hong Kong is an outlier in this regard.
The ten countries with the lowest human freedom indexes (the least free countries in the world) are:
- Syria 3.79
- Venezuela 3.80
- Yemen 4.30
- Sudan 4.32
- Iraq 4.34
- Egypt 4.50
- Libya 4.64
- Algeria 4.99
- Iran 5.10
- Ethiopia 5.25
In the 2019 edition of this report, the average human freedom score was 6.89. The overall level of freedom of the countries included in this report decreased slightly by 0.01, compared to the levels in 2016. Compared to the levels in 2008, the overall freedom of the countries included has decreased by 0.07.
The regions with the highest levels of freedom are North America, Western Europe, and East Asia. The lowest levels of freedom are in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.
The full Human Freedom Index 2019 report can be found here.