Freedom Up > Wealth Up, Poverty Down

International Economic and Political Freedom coincide with each other and with low rates of poverty and high rates of wealth.

International Rankings: Economic Freedom (Heritage Foundation Index of Ecoomic Freedom)
International Rankings: Poverty Rates Poverty Rankings
International Rankings: Gross Domestic Product per Capita
International Rankings: Democracy (Economist Democracy Index)

The author of this aritcle, my economist hero Walter Williams, however, concludes that political freedom lacks a clear coincidence with both economic freedom and with prosperity: "Don't make the mistake of equating economic freedom with democracy. After all, India, politically, is a democracy, but economically it is mostly unfree and [thus] poor, ranking 104th in economic freedom. There are countries on the economic freedom index that do not have much of a history of democracy, such as Chile, ranking 11th, and Taiwan, 26th, and yet these countries are far wealthier than some of their more democratic counterparts. Why? It's because their economic systems are free or mostly free, which is not guaranteed by a democratic political system."

In other words, even free people can vote-away their economic freedoms, and dictatorships can confer economic freedom even while withholding the franchise. And sure, India does rank pretty high democratically, and low for economic freedom and measures of per capita prosperity. But this may be an exception. Venezuela has high rate of poverty, low per capita wealth, and low economic and political freedom rankings (despite those who cheer it as a democracy).

The same appears true for China: It's great national wealth plummets when calculated per capita, coinciding with its high poverty rate. Although it ranks low as a democracy, it also ranks low in economic freedom. Where Williams declares that Economic Freedom is the single great predictor of incresed prosperity and reduced poverty, I claim that just as Economic Freedom and Political Freedom are mutually dependant, and they very tightly (but not perfectly) coincide.

From Walther Williams' article: =========================
Some people claim that some countries are rich because of abundant natural resources. That's nonsense! Africa and South America are probably the richest continents in natural resources, but are home to some of the world's poorest people. By contrast, countries like England, Japan and Hong Kong are poor in natural resources, but their people are among the world's wealthiest.

...The 13th edition of the "Index of Economic Freedom" examines 10 economic characteristics of 157 countries. Among those characteristics are property rights, monetary stability, and freedom from government, trade restrictions, business regulations and government corruption. Using these measures of economic freedom, countries are ranked.

Hong Kong and Singapore, as they have for 13 years, rank as the world's two economically freest countries, with freedom scores of 89 and 86 percent free. Rounding out the top 10 most free economies are Australia (83), United States (82), New Zealand (82), United Kingdom (82), Ireland (81), Luxembourg (79), Switzerland (79) and Canada (79). At the other end of the list are the least free countries. Ranking 157th, North Korea, with a freedom score of 3 percent, is the world's least free country. Ranking 156th is Cuba, 30 percent free, and in ascending order are: Libya (34) Zimbabwe (36), Burma (40), Turkmenistan (42), Congo (43), Iran (43), Angola (43), and Guinea-Bassau (45).

The "2007 Index of Economic Freedom" displays a color-coded map showing countries that are free, mostly free, moderately free, mostly unfree and repressed. Guess where one finds the world's most miserably poor people? If you guessed the mostly unfree and repressed countries, you guessed correctly.

1 comment:

Paul Hue said...

If I am correct about political freedom freedoms promoting economic success, the Bushies should note that the Economist democracy analysists docked the US for its "War on Terrorism" measures. Of course Nadir would support those measures if only Hugo Chavez would impose them! I, however, oppose them no matter who impliments them.