In the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation’s recently released 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States has dropped from the list of the top ten freest economies in the world. Over the past year the U.S. moved from the tenth-freest economy to the twelfth.
The index measures ten different factors and compares countries based on their regulatory efficiency, size of government, rule of law, and the openness of their markets. Each of the factors is measured on a scale of 1 to 100, and the country’s overall score is the average of each factor. For the 2014 index, the data cover the last half of 2012 to the first half of 2013.
Since 2006, the U.S. has “suffered a dramatic decline of almost six points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending,” according to the report. “Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government, including through new and costly regulations in areas like finance and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom. The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perceptions of fairness.”
Hong Kong tops the charts for the 20th consecutive year. Others in the top-ten list include Singapore, Switzerland, and America’s neighbor to the north, Canada. North Korea and Cuba occupy the index’s lowest ranks.