Annual Ranking: U.S. Has Less Economic Freedom Than Bahrain

Penny Starr | September 20, 2012 | 1:59pm EDT
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In this July 24, 2012 photo, tire inspector Flora Roundtree checks a tire for defects at a Michelin manufacturing plant in Greenville, S.C.  (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

( -- The United States has slipped to 18th in the world when it comes to economic freedom, according to an annual ranking of nations issued by the Fraser Institute.

The U.S. has moved down 10 places over the last decade, the top Canadian think-tank said in its annual report on economic freedom around the globe.

“The United States, long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a substantial decline in economic freedom during the past decade,” the Fraser report states.

From 1980 to 2000, the U.S. was generally rated the third freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore, according to Fraser.

“The chain-linked ranking of the United States has fallen precipitously from second in 2000 to eighth in 2005 and 19th in 2010 (unadjusted ranking of 18th),” the report said.

The rankings are based on size of government, legal system and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation.

This year’s index shows that Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom, 8.90 out of 10. The other top 10 nations are: Singapore (8.69); New Zealand (8.36); Switzerland (8.24); Australia (7.97); Canada (7.97); Bahrain (7.94); Mauritius (7.90); Finland (7.88) and Chile (7.84).

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, said the fact that the United States has fallen from 3rd to 18th in just 10 short years means “we have lost a full decade of growth.”

“It is a travesty that our country is spiraling away from the principles that have made us an economic beacon for the world,” Phillips said in a statement issued in response to the report.

“This report shows what many fiscal conservatives have known all along, that our long-term growth is being threatened because big-government economic policies have grown the size of government, increased regulation and are now reducing our economic freedom and future prosperity,” he said.

The rankings of other large economies in this year’s index are:

12. United Kingdom (7.75)

18. United States(7.69)

20. Japan (7.64)

31. Germany (7.52)

47. France (7.32)

83.  Italy (6.77)

91. Mexico (6.66)

95. Russia (6.56)

105. Brazil (6.37)

107. China 6.35); and

111. India (6.26).

The scores of the bottom 10 nations in this year’s index are: Venezuela, 4.07; Myanmar, 4.29; Zimbabwe, 4.35; Republic of the Congo, 4.86; Angola, 5.12; Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5.18; Guinea-Bissau, 5.23; Algeria, 5.34; Chad, 5.41; and, tied for 10th worst, Mozambique and Burundi, 5.45.

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