The Heritage Foundation’s 2022 “Index of Economic Freedom” puts the United States at a record low ranking, falling from 20th in 2021 to 25th this year out of 177 countries ranked.
“The decline of American economic freedom is serious cause for alarm, and has real and tangible consequences for all Americans, especially low-income families and the working class,” said Heritage president Dr. Kevin Roberts.
The bad news extends globally, as economic freedom around the world declined in the past year. The index attributes the drop to “unwise policies addressing the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a press release announcing the index.
Singapore remained the world’s freest economy, followed by Switzerland, Ireland, and New Zealand. Taiwan, Luxembourg, and Estonia joined the “free” category for the first time.
On the flip side, nations with more draconian COVID-19 policies slid in the rankings. Australia, for example, dipped out of the “free” category for the first time since 2006.
Economic freedom remained “almost non-existent” in China, according to Heritage, due to “increased intervention and aggression in Hong Kong, threats against Taiwan, the persecution of the Uyghurs and other religious groups, and Beijing’s malicious cyber activities.”
Rounding out the list of the least free nations were Zimbabwe, Sudan, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.
“Most every economy included in the 2022 Index experienced negative growth in 2020, which is not surprising given that so many of the actions that governments have taken in the name of protecting public health have also reduced economic freedom,” said the index’s authors, Terry Miller, Anthony Kim, James Roberts, and Patrick Tyrrell.
“These restrictions have exacted a cost in terms of human well-being that must be added to the enormous cost of the death toll from the disease itself,” they added.
The index was launched in 1995 and evaluates countries in four broad policy areas affecting economic freedom: rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.