No freedom without economic freedom

Since 1995, the Index of Economic Freedom, a joint venture of the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, has measured 10 different categories of economic freedom in nearly every country in the world and compared those results on a global scale. The Index's overall rankings place the United States as the fifth-most economically free nation in the world.


  • The United States scored 80 out of 100 in the Index's category of investment freedom, tied with four other nations in second place.

  • The United States received points because it does not require foreign investors to register with the federal government, nor does it restrict the purchase of real estate on a national level.

  • The United States lost points, however, because of its restrictions on foreign investment in banking, mining, defence contracting, certain energy-related industries, fishing, shipping, communications and aviation.

  • While the United States allows for relatively free investment, it should move to ease some of these restrictions in order to expand investment opportunities.


  • Last year, U.S. government expenditures equalled 36.6 per cent of gross domestic product.

  • The United States rates 59.81 in the Index's rankings for size of government; that's fully 35 points behind Hong Kong, the most economically free nation in the world.

    Business Climate:

  • The United States received a 91.7 rating for business freedom; these high scores result, in part, from the fact that business owners are largely free to launch, maintain and close businesses with impunity.

  • Across the globe, it takes an average of 43 days to start a new business; by contrast, one needs an average of only six days to start a business in the United States.

  • A strong rating for labour freedom also contributed to the U.S.'s high business climate score, as flexible, market-driven employment policies bolster expansion, output and employment opportunities.

    Source: Doug Wilson, No Freedom Without Economic Freedom,, January 28, 2008.

    For text:

    For Index:

    For more on International Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 05 February 2008
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