2018 State of World Liberty Index

by Patrick Rhamey

The State of World Liberty Index was a combination of indices compiled originally in 2006 by Nick Wilson.  Since then, I've periodically updated the index.  My methodology is similar to the original with the following exceptions: I use only the civil liberties portion of Freedom House, economic liberty (Fraser/Heritage) is weighted evenly with social liberty, and the Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Scores are of equal weight to each of the Freedom House Civil Liberties sub-components.  All changes are done with the purpose of creating the most accurate relative ranking of countries by the degree of liberty (economic and social) enjoyed by the average individual within the state or territory.  Note, the ranking is not reflective of, nor does it include, political or electoral rights.  Where data is available, territories or colonies (e.g. Hong Kong) are included.

Finally, added this year is a ranking of the Conservative-Progressive spectrum, where conservative would be very high economic liberty but low social liberty, and progressive would be very high social liberty but low economic liberty.  This added dimension allows for grouping states by both freedoms and ideology, such as Moderate Free (New Zealand) and Moderate Tyranny (North Korea), Progressive Free (Norway) and Progressive Tyranny (Venezuela), and Conservative Free (Hong Kong) and Conservative Tyranny (Syria).

Also please note, rankings used to create the below are typically delayed by one to two years.  So, they do not reflect any recent events that may have occurred within the past 6-12 months.

Full rankings are here.

2018 Liberty by Quintile.  Colors represent countries grouped by quintiles in order of blue (top 20%), green (20-40%), yellow (40-60%), orange (60-80%), and red (80-100%).

2018 Most Free Countries:
1. New Zealand
2. Switzerland
3. Ireland
3. Australia
5. Sweden
5. Norway
5. Netherlands
5. Luxembourg
5. Canada
5. Finland

2018 Most Oppressive Countries:
1. North Korea
2. Syria
3. Venezuela
3. Eritrea
5. Libya
6. Equatorial Guinea
7. Turkmenistan
8. Central African Republic
9. Sudan
10. Ethiopia
10. Iran
10. Uzbekistan

2018 Five Year change in Liberty.  Blue is an increase in rank by >20 and green >10 since 2014.  Orange is a fall in rank of >10 and red >20 since 2014.

2018 Greatest 5 Year Increases:
1. Sri Lanka
1. Cote d'Ivoire
3. Nepal
4. Latvia
4. Myanmar
4. Zimbabwe
7. Vanuatu
7. Jamaica
7. The Gambia
10. Madagascar

2018 Greatest 5 Year Decreases:
1. Afghanistan
2. Turkey
3. Maldives
4. Libya
5. Lebanon
5. Zambia
7. Djibouti
8. Brunei
9. Thailand
9. Hungary
9. Bahamas

2018 Conservative-Progressive Ranking. Grouped by quintile, red is very conservative, pink is conservative, yellow is neutral, light blue is progressive, and blue is very progressive.

Below image graphs the amount of liberty enjoyed by the average citizen in a state (x-axis) by the balance on whether the state more heavily regulates economic or social behaviors (y-axis).  

2018 Most Conservative:
1. Bahrain
2. United Arab Emirates
3. Rwanda
4. Singapore
5. Saudi Arabia
6. Azerbaijan
7. Turkmenistan
7. Qatar
7. Laos
7. Kazakhstan

2018 Most Progressive:
1. Kiribati
1. Argentina
3. Micronesia
4. Barbados
5. Benin
5. Brazil
7. Cabo Verde
8. Dominica
8. Portugal
8. Sao Tome y Principe