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Economic Freedom

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3.5

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4.5

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5.5

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6.5

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7.5

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8.5

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Market Economy Countries 2024

A market economy is a system in which individual citizens and privately held businesses—and the customers who patronize them—determine the prices of goods and services through the forces of supply and demand. Those prices, in turn, guide economic decisions in related areas such as investment, production, and distribution. Businesses are free to succeed or fail in market economies, and competition drives innovation and optimizes efficiency. Market economies are typically utilized in capitalist countries, whereas socialist and communist countries typically utilize a command economy, in which the government controls the price, supply/manufacture, and distribution of most goods. Market economies have six defining characteristics which enable them to exist and function properly:

The Six Defining Characteristics of Market Economies:

  1. Private property
  2. Freedom of choice
  3. Motive of self-interest
  4. Competition
  5. System of markets and prices
  6. Limited government

Pure free-market economies are extremely rare, as the government nearly always has a hand in some aspect of the economy, such as offering subsidies to struggling/fledgling industries, capping utility prices, or providing "public goods" (roads, military defenses, universal healthcare) to its citizens. Therefore, most developed countries in the world today include elements of both free market and command economies, making them mixed economies. Most economists agree that market-oriented economies are healthier and more efficient than command economies, but considerable debate exists about which balance of free markets vs central planning results in the greatest economic stability, equity, and long-term benefits.

Countries with Market Economies

Although there are currently no purely free-market economies in the world, some mixed economies are freer than others. According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Rankings, the five countries with the most economic freedom in 2021 were Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland. This report ranks countries based on these cornerstones of economic freedom: personal choice rather than collective choice, voluntary exchange coordinated by markets, freedom to enter and compete in markets, and protection of persons and their property.

The Top 25 Most Economically Free Countries in the World (2021):

Cuba, China, and North Korea are examples of mixed economies that hew closer to a command economy than a free market economy.

  • Sources occasionally differ on the matter of what constitutes a market economy country. One of the simplest measures is the country's economic score on the Cato Institute's annual Human Freedom Index, in which countries with an economic freedom score of 8.0 or higher almost always have a market economy and countries from 7.50-7.99 may or may not have a market economy, depending upon which of the six main characteristics (see body text) they possess.

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Country
Market Economy
Economic Freedom
United States8.14
Japan7.79
Germany7.73
United Kingdom8.01
Spain7.52
Canada7.98
Australia8.05
Taiwan7.97
Romania7.70
Czech Republic7.81
Switzerland8.47
Hong Kong8.55
Singapore8.56
Denmark8.10
Finland7.81
New Zealand8.43
Ireland8.11
Georgia7.71
Armenia7.58
Lithuania7.95
Latvia7.71
Estonia7.95
Mauritius7.82
Cyprus7.57
Malta7.73
Iceland7.93
India6.62
China6.18
Indonesia6.93
Pakistan5.98
Nigeria6.67
Brazil6.58
Bangladesh5.81
Russia6.28
Ethiopia5.44
Mexico7.02
Philippines7.01
Egypt5.47
DR Congo5.33
Vietnam6.26
Iran4.53
Turkey6.32
Thailand7.07
Tanzania6.27
France7.40
South Africa6.53
Italy7.25
Kenya6.82
Myanmar5.33
Colombia6.60
South Korea7.47
Uganda6.64
Sudan3.98
Iraq5.49
Algeria4.82
Argentina4.77
Poland7.12
Morocco6.42
Ukraine6.17
Angola5.38
Saudi Arabia6.64
Yemen4.18
Mozambique6.03
Ghana6.41
Peru7.52
Malaysia7.19
Nepal6.30
Madagascar5.92
Ivory Coast6.04
Venezuela3.01
Cameroon5.72
Niger5.80
Syria3.90
Mali5.80
Burkina Faso6.14
Sri Lanka6.13
Malawi5.87
Zambia5.84
Kazakhstan7.13
Chile7.66
Chad5.31
Somalia5.66
Ecuador6.46
Guatemala7.50
Senegal6.20
Netherlands7.76
Cambodia6.82
Zimbabwe3.81
Guinea5.62
Rwanda6.77
Benin6.41
Burundi5.40
Bolivia6.08
Tunisia6.02
Haiti6.15
Belgium7.43
Dominican Republic7.30
Jordan7.30
Honduras6.97
Sweden7.81
Papua New Guinea6.05
Azerbaijan5.99
Tajikistan6.38
Greece6.94
Portugal7.54
Hungary7.36
United Arab Emirates7.35
Belarus6.23
Israel7.57
Togo6.24
Sierra Leone5.91
Austria7.69
Laos6.24
Nicaragua6.52
Serbia6.85
Libya4.65
Paraguay7.02
Kyrgyzstan6.88
Bulgaria7.46
El Salvador7.11
Republic of the Congo4.85
Central African Republic5.01
Slovakia7.49
Liberia5.82
Norway7.67
Costa Rica7.76
Lebanon5.15
Mauritania5.78
Oman6.58
Panama7.51
Kuwait6.63
Croatia7.25
Mongolia7.04
Uruguay7.06
Moldova7.18
Bosnia and Herzegovina6.66
Gambia7.11
Albania7.60
Jamaica7.46
Qatar6.58
Botswana6.84
Namibia6.16
Gabon5.41
Lesotho5.95
Guinea Bissau5.53
Slovenia7.23
North Macedonia7.06
Trinidad and Tobago6.63
Bahrain7.44
Timor Leste5.82
Eswatini5.33
Djibouti5.79
Fiji6.32
Comoros5.63
Guyana5.43
Bhutan6.62
Luxembourg7.91
Suriname5.52
Montenegro7.59
Cape Verde7.38
Brunei7.12
Belize5.91
Bahamas6.55
Barbados6.94
Seychelles7.12
showing: 165 rows

What are the top 5 market economies?

As of 2023, Singapore, Hong Kong (China), Switzerland, New Zealand, and the United States ranked as the world's five most economically free countries in the Cato Institute's Human Freedom Index, making them the world's top 5 market economies in terms of economic freedom. In terms of GDP, the five highest producing market economies (70% or higher on Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom) are the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, and South Korea.

Frequently Asked Questions

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