Freedom is one of the most important factors influencing a person's everyday quality of life. In addition to making it easier to live one's life, human freedom recognizes individuals' dignity and is inherently valuable, playing a vital role in human progress.
Despite this importance, determining which countries' citizens have the most freedom can be challenging to do so objectively. Fortunately, individual indices can be used to determine which countries have the highest level of human freedom.
Introducing the Human Freedom Index
The Cato Institute in Washington DC and the Fraser Institute in Vancouver, Canada co-published the annual Human Freedom Index Report for 2020, which helps observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena.
The Human Freedom Index Report for 2020 ranked 162 countries in two distinct categories: Personal Freedom and Economic Freedom, which are then combined to form the final Human Freedom score. This score is then compared to that of other nations to determine which countries are the freest in the world.
Top 10 Freest Countries in the World - 2020 Human Freedom Index
- New Zealand - 8.87
- Switzerland - 8.82
- Hong Kong (China) - 8.74
- Denmark - 8.73
- Australia - 8.68
- Canada - 8.64
- Ireland - 8.62
- Estonia - 8.54
- Germany - 8.52 (tie)
- Sweden - 8.52 (tie)
Types of Freedom
Personal freedom is defined as an individual's freedom of opinion and expression, equality before the courts, security of private property, and freedom to come and go. For example, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution lists several personal freedoms that are guaranteed to all U.S. citizens.
Economic freedom, also known as economic liberty, consists of personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete in markets, and protection of person and property. Economic freedom enables people to prosper in a country without intervention from the government or economic authority. Economic freedom can be seen in capitalism or "laissez-faire" economies, where the means of production (manufacturers or suppliers) are privately owned and the government has little to no control over businesses.
Top 10 Least Free Countries in the World - 2020 Human Freedom Index
- Syrian Arab Republic - 3.97
- Sudan - 4.01
- Venezuela - 4.08
- Yemen - 4.17
- Iran - 4.53
- Egypt - 4.67
- Libya - 4.83
- Iraq - 4.90
- Algeria - 5.20
- Central African Republic - 5.25
The table below displays the full list of each country's rank for the Personal Freedom Index, Economic Freedom Index, and Human Freedom Index.