One News reported:
New Zealanders have the most freedom in the world, according to an international index that ranks 123 countries.
The report, which was released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, and Germany’s Liberales Institut, examines the characteristics of freedom and how it can best be measured and compared between different nations.
New Zealand was ranked number one for offering the highest level of freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong.
Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot, with the United States and Denmark tied for seventh.
The lowest-ranked countries were Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria.
I’m surprised Sri Lanka is so low. The full report is here. They assign a score out of 10 for personal freedom and economic freedom. We get 9.2 and 8.2 respectively. On each individual factor we are ranked 2nd or 3rd, but overall 1st with 8.7. The Netherlands and Uruguay are ranked slightly higher for personal freedoms but significantly lower for economic freedoms. The only country higher for economic freedom is Hong Kong but obviously they are not so good on personal freedoms.
The median personal freedom is 7.5, economic freedom 6.9 and overall index 7.1.
The correlation between the economic freedom ratings and personal freedom ratings was 0.60. That there would be at least that level of correlation was not a surprise given theory and cruder but indicative previous attempts to discover such a relationship.
This is one of the reasons I support both. Generally countries with greater personal freedoms have greater economic freedom and vice-versa.
The factors involved in the freedom ratings and NZ scores out of 10 are:
- Extrajudicial Killing 10
- Torture 10
- Political Imprisonment 10
- Disappearance 10
- Battle-related Deaths 10
- Level of organized conflict 10
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Son Preference
- Homicide 9.4
- Human Trafficking 10
- Sexual Violence 0.9
- Assault 9.5
- Level of perceived criminality in society 7.5
- Theft 0
- Burglary 0
- Hostility to foreigners & their private property 10
- SECURITY & SAFETY SUB-TOTAL 7.7
- Forcibly Displaced Populations 10
- Freedom of Foreign Movement 10
- Freedom of Domestic Movement 10
- Women’s Freedom of Movement
- MOVEMENT SUB-TOTAL 10
- Press Killings 10
- Freedom of Speech 10
- Laws and regulations that influence media content 9.3
- Political pressures and controls on media content 8.8
- Dress code in public
- EXPRESSION SUB-TOTAL 9.5
- Freedom of Assembly and Association 10
- Parental Authority
- Religion – Government Restrictions 9.6
- Religion – Social Hostility 9.1
- Male to Male Relationship 10
- Female to Female Relationship 10
- Age of Consent for Homosexual Couples 10
- Adoption by Homosexuals
- RELATIONSHIPS SUB-TOTAL 9.8
The authors note:
There needs to be a discussion in the main text regarding the women’s
freedom and homosexuality variables to point out that these are not
about women or homosexual activity per se, but are instead trying to
get at the extent certain groups are discriminated against under the law. Equality before the law is a key component of the classical liberal tradition. By the same token, the freedom to speak, denounce, and even privately discriminate against people is also a part of the classical liberal tradition. An expanded discussion of this nuance would be helpful. The bottom line from the classical liberal tradition is that private inequality of treatment is allowable but the government and legal system, which is based on force, must treat people equally.
Also of interest in this methodology:
This index of freedom also does not incorporate measures of democracy or “political freedom.” The reason is that democracy describes a “power relationship,” to use Fred McMahon’s term, in which freedom may increase or decrease depending on the collective decisions of the elected government. Democracy may be more consistent than other forms of government at safeguarding freedom, but it is not freedom, nor does it necessarily guarantee freedom.4 The relationship between democracy and freedom is of crucial interest to all advocates of liberty, which is all the more reason to establish an independent measure of freedom.
A key point. Just being in a democracy does not make you free. It is about far more than whether once every few years you get a vote.
An author at Crooks and Liars lauds NZ over the US, and cites our placement on a number of rankings. His or her post has been shared over 10,000 times on social media!