TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 01/08/13 -- New Zealand leads the world in human freedom, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong with the United States and Denmark tied for seventh, according to the most complete index of human freedom yet available, released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank, and Germany's Liberales Institut.
The index is contained in a new book, Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom, which examines the characteristics of "freedom" and how it can best be measured and compared between different nations.
"Our intention is to measure the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties-freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly-in each country surveyed. We also look at indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms," said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom (Fraser Institute) and editor of Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom.
"The classical ideas of freedom from the time of the Enlightenment included economic freedom as essential to other freedoms, yet all the indexes available up to now either measure civil and political freedoms, often confusing what freedom actually is, or economic freedom alone. This is the first index that brings together these classic ideas of freedom in an intellectually consistent index."
The book is the first publication of the Human Freedom project sponsored by the Cato Institute (United States), as well as the Fraser Institute and the Liberales Institut.
The initial freedom index ranks New Zealand as offering the highest level of human freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot, with the United States and Denmark tied for seventh, Japan and Estonia tied for ninth overall. The lowest-ranked countries are Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria.
The index was created by Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute and Tanja Stumberger of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. They developed the initial draft of an objective measurement of overall human freedom, combining for the first time economic freedom with other forms of freedom. Such a measure will enable researchers to answer important questions on the impact (good and bad) of negative freedom and what supports freedom or undermines it.
Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom also highlights the evolution of economic, political, and social freedoms from the ancient world to the present day over the course of 10 chapters by 13 academics and economists from Canada (Fraser Institute), the United States (Cato Institute, Emory University), Germany (Liberales Institut, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main), and Russia (Institute of Economic Analysis). Chapters of note include:
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