The level of economic freedom in the United Kingdom is declining rapidly, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2009 Annual Report, released today by the Fraser Institute in conjunction with the Institute of Economic Affairs.
In a sharp fall, the United Kingdoms rank has dropped from 5th to joint 9th (with Australia) since last year. The UK has been overtaken by Chile, Ireland, the United States, and Canada.
The countrys overall score has dropped from 8.02 to 7.89. This reflects falls in the rating for Legal structures and security of property rights, Freedom to Trade Internationally and Regulation of Credit, Labor and Business - essential components of a successful market economy.
The report is based on data from 2007, which means the UKs position could now be even worse, particularly given a dramatic increase in the level of state intervention following the financial crisis.
The following are the UKs scores in key components of economic freedom (from 1 to 10, where a higher value indicates a higher level of economic freedom):
Legal structures and security of property rights: declined from 8.69 to 8.37
Access to sound money: declined from 9.40 to 9.34
Freedom to trade internationally: declined from 7.77 to 7.56
Regulation of credit, labour and business: declined from 7.47 to 7.35
Size of government: improved slightly from 6.64 to 6.67
Hong Kong once again tops international rankings for economic freedom, with Singapore a close second and New Zealand in third spot.
Zimbabwe once again had the lowest economic freedom ratings of the 141 countries measured, followed by Myanmar (Burma), Angola and Venezuela.
The annual peer-reviewed report uses 42 different measures to create an index ranking countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete and security of private property.