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Canada way ahead of US on Human Freedom Index

Global think tanks rank us sixth, the US 20th and Hong Kong first.


August 18, 2015
by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO — How free are Canadians? We rank sixth overall, well ahead of the US (20th) but surprisingly behind Hong Kong (first) in the Human Freedom Index, released by the Fraser Institute and a network of international public-policy think tanks.

The index ¬– which uses 76 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms to rank 152 countries, also ranks Switzerland, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand ahead of Canada.

The index measures the degree to which people enjoy freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly. It also looks at the rule of law, indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, limits on freedom due to sexual orientation, and women’s freedoms.

Other notable countries are Australia (ranked seventh), the United Kingdom (ninth), Germany (12th) and Chile (18th).

Why does Canada rank higher than the US, land of the free?

According to the data, Canada has better scores on security and safety, the rule of law and economic freedom, which is based on personal choice, trade openness, freedom to compete, security of private property and judicial independence.

“Over time the United States has seen an erosion of property rights and an expansion of quasi-judicial regulations. The data also points to a significant weakening in the rule of law,” said said Fred McMahon, the Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and editor of study.
McMahon notes Hong Kong’s ranking benefits from its high economic freedom score.

“While the freedom index doesn’t measure democracy, democracy has shown to be the best safeguard of personal freedoms. So, if China, which ranks 132nd in the world, encroaches on its one-country, two-system relationship – where liberty is protected under Hong Kong’s system – then we can expect Hong Kong’s ranking to deteriorate as some more recent data already suggest,” he said.

Internationally, the average rankings on the index, by region, were highest for Northern Europe followed by North America and Western Europe, and were lowest for the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.

Download the complete index, a joint project of the Fraser Institute, the Liberales Institut of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Germany), and the Cato Institute (US), here.

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