WASHINGTON – The United States has less economic freedom than New Zealand, Australia, Estonia, Ireland, Chile, the United Kingdom and Lithuania. That’s the conclusion of the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom for 2017, which saw the United States rank 17th.
The total score of 75.1 for the U.S. was its lowest total ever.
The index  ranks countries using a scoring system of one to 100. The freest place on the planet was Hong Kong, which had a score of 89.8. The least free was the Communist country of North Korea with a score of 4.9, which put it last at 180.
“The substantial expansion in the size and scope of the U.S. government, increased regulatory and tax burdens in many sectors, and the loss of trust and confidence that has accompanied a growing perception of cronyism have severely undermined America’s global competitiveness,” the report said.
The score is based on the Heritage Foundation’s “four pillars” of economic freedom: rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open markets. It also examines other factors such as fiscal health, judicial effectiveness and government integrity.
Some of the highlights of this year’s Index include:
- Only five nations — Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia — are considered “truly free” by Heritage’s experts. That means they have an economic freedom score of more than 80.
- The U.S. ranked better in economic freedom than some other major powers including Germany (26), Japan (40) and China (111).
- The U.S. still has less economic freedom than Canada, which was ranked seventh. Mexico was No. 70.
- Venezuela  (179) now has less economic freedom than Cuba, which was ranked 178. Only North Koreans enjoy less economic freedom than Venezuelans.
- Only one Islamic country – the United Arab Emirates — enjoyed a high level of economic freedom. The UAE was ranked No. 8.
All total, 73 countries fell in their rankings this year.
“Sixteen of these 73 countries, including notably the Bahamas, Bahrain, El Salvador, Pakistan, Venezuela , and the United States, recorded their lowest economic freedom scores ever,” the Index said.
It was the 23rd Index of Economic Freedom.
Following is the Top 20, including the 16 countries ranked ahead of the U.S.:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Unite Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Despite the ranking of the U.S., economic freedom has “advanced in a majority of the world’s countries over the past year,” with 103 nations showing advances, according to the report. It looks as if economic freedom is increasing around the world, even as it declines in America. There is still a great deal of work to be done.
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