TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - November 29, 2016) - Hong Kong is once again the freest jurisdiction in the world while the United States continues its decline, dropping to 23rd in the Human Freedom Index, released today 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 159 countries and jurisdictions around the world -- includes rankings from 2008 to 2014, the most recent year of comparable data.
"The Human Freedom Index measures civil liberties, economic freedom, the rule of law, freedom of movement, women's rights and much more," said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and editor of study.
Hong Kong again ranks number one, followed by Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland and Denmark. Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are tied for sixth. Other notable countries include Germany (13), the U.S. (23), France (31), Japan (32), Russia (115) and China (141).
Hong Kong's place atop the list is largely because of its high scores in economic freedom.
"While the freedom index doesn't measure democracy, democracy remains the best safeguard of personal freedoms. If China encroaches on its one-country, two-system relationship with Hong Kong, we can expect Hong Kong's ranking to drop," McMahon said.
By region, the average rankings on the index were highest for Western and Northern Europe, followed by North America. And they were lowest for South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa.
The complete index, a joint project of Canada's Fraser Institute, the Cato Institute in the U.S., and the Liberales Institut of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Germany, is available as a free PDF download at www.fraserinstitute.org.
McMahon is the project editor. Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute, and Tanja Porcnik of the Visio Institute in Slovenia are the co-authors.
The 10 freest jurisdictions (from top)
1. Hong Kong
3. New Zealand
6. United Kingdom
The 10 least free countries
151. Democratic Republic of Congo
155. Central African Republic
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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org