The Index of Economic Freedom has just released its 2014 numbers, ranking all the countries in the world based on the overall freedom level of their citizens.
The criteria they use are rule of law (property rights, lack of corruption), limited government (government spending, government waste, tax rates, etc), regulatory efficiency (business, labor, and monetary freedoms, how easy it is to start a business, etc), and open markets (tariffs, trade freedom, financial freedom, etc).
Here are the top ten most free countries in the world:
1. Hong Kong
5. New Zealand
The United States? Number 12, after Estonia. How funny is it that a former Soviet satellite is more free than we are? England is even worse at 14. How about Germany? 18. Other European and Asian countries just get worse from there. Japan is an embarrassing 25, South Korea even worse at 31. France is a dreadful 70. China is in the dungeon at number 137. Sucks.
You can read the full list here.
Note that 6 of the top 10 are tiny little countries, bolstering a theory I’ve had for a long time that the smaller your country is, the more likely it is to be free. The larger a country grows, the less free it tends to be. The same law also usually applies to cities as well as nations. You’ll experience more individual freedoms living way out in the country than you will downtown in a city of millions of people.
Considering Hong Kong and Singapore are the two countries I’m considering moving to in a few years (or at least spending half the year there), it looks like I chose well. (I was also considering Shanghai at one point, but China’s experiencing the largest economic bubble in human history, so that’s probably out.)