Determining which countries’ citizens have the most freedom can be difficult to do so objectively. However, certain indices can be used to determine which countries have the highest level of human freedom. Human freedom recognizes the dignity of individuals and is inherently valuable, playing a vital role in human progress.
The Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom co-published the Human Freedom Index Report for 2018. The Human Freedom Index helps observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena.
To determine each country’s freedom rank, each country is given a rank for Personal Freedo and Economic Freedom.
Personal Freedom is the freedom of an individual to have freedom of opinion and expression, equality before the courts, security of private property, and freedom to come and go. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution lists several personal freedoms that US citizens have the right to.
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 allows 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 means of production are privately owned and the government has little to no control over businesses.
The Human Freedom Index Report gave more than 160 countries a rank in all three categories to determine which countries were the freest in the world. The country with the highest rank for the personal freedom index was the Netherlands, followed closely by Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Hong Kong had the highest economic freedom index, followed closely by Singapore. For overall human freedom, New Zealand came in first, closely followed by Switzerland and Hong Kong.
The table below has each country’s rank for the Personal Freedom Index, Economic Freedom Index, and Human Freedom Index.