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Hong Kong maintains top spot in freedom index, United States drops to 23rd

November 29, 2016

TORONTO, ON – 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

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

2. Switzerland

3. New Zealand

4. Ireland

5. Denmark

6. Canada

6. Australia

6. United Kingdom

9. Finland

10. Netherlands


The 10 least free countries

150. Angola

151. Democratic Republic of Congo

152. Algeria

153. Myanmar

154. Venezuela

155. Central African Republic

156. Syria

157. Iran

158. Yemen

159. Libya