2019 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.

Also included 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 (Ireland) 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.

2019 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%).

2019 Most Free Countries:

1. New Zealand
2. Switzerland
3. Ireland
3. Australia
3. Canada
6. Netherlands
6. Finland
8. Norway
8. Luxembourg
8. Sweden

2019 Most Oppressive Countries:

1. North Korea
2. Syria
2. Eritrea
4. Venezuela
5. Cuba
6. Libya
7. Turkmenistan
8. Equatorial Guinea
8. Sudan
10. Central African Republic

2019 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.

2019 Greatest 5 Year Increase:

1. Jamaica
2. Argentina
3. Cote d’Ivoire
4. Kyrgyz
4. Ecuador
4. Slovenia
7. The Gambia
7. Malawi
7. East Timor
7. Burkina Faso

2019 Greatest 5 Year Decrease:
1. Turkey
2. Djibouti
3. Bahamas
3. Nicaragua
5. Dominica
5. Barbados
5. Bahrain
8. Maldives
9. Brazil
10. St. Vincent

2019 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).  

2019 Most Conservative:

1. Bahrain
2. United Arab Emirates
3. Rwanda
4. Saudi Arabia
5. Singapore
5. Turkmenistan
7. Azerbaijan
8. Laos
9. China
9. Qatar

2019 Most Progressive:

1. Kiribati
2. Argentina
3. Micronesia
4. Barbados
5. Sao Tome y Principe
5. Dominica
7. Solomon Islands
8. Uruguay
8. Greece
8. Brazil
8. Benin