In the most recent edition of the Human Freedom Index, New Zeeland and Switzerland occupy the top two spots followed by Hong Kong, Canada and Australia to round off the top five. Only after this do further European countries such as Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland and Germany follow. The index covers 162 countries in total and always uses the most recently available data – in this case from 2017. The index is published on an annual basis by the Cato Institute in the USA, the Canadian Fraser Institute and a network of political thinktanks.
Switzerland scores well for mobility and money
Switzerland was awarded top values in relation to freedom of association, assembly and demonstration and freedom of movement. It also almost achieved the maximum available score for safety and robust monetary policy, known as “sound money”. Since the beginning of the survey, Switzerland has improved by one rank overall, jumping from third place to second.
Freedom on the rise
The authors underline in the accompanying press release, that the degree of freedom has risen across the globe during the period between 2008 and 2017. Nevertheless, the global power China continues to languish near the bottom of the rankings, registering some of the lowest values to place it in 126th place. Syria and Venezuela offer the lowest level of freedom overall.
Another finding from this survey is that people tend to be more affluent in jurisdictions that enjoy greater levels of freedom in comparison to those at the lower end of the rankings. Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute was quoted: “When people are free, they have greater opportunity to prosper and they lead happier, healthier lives”.