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US Drops Out of Top 10 Economically Free Countries, Behind Estonia

For the first time ever, the United States has fallen out of the top 10 most economically free countries, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released on Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. The United States now finds itself 12th, well behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, and even Estonia.

The index measures “a nation’s commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories.” Those categories include government size, property rights, and “fiscal soundness.” The index is used as an economic indicator because countries that receive high scores tend to see the most economic growth, social progress, and long-term prosperity.

Overall, world economic freedom is now at record highs but the United States has been hurt by ineffective governance that threatens to impede growth. Overall, though, 114 countries have “taken steps” since 2012 to improve economic freedom within their borders and 43 of those countries are now seeing more economic freedom than ever before.

Only six countries were designated “economically free,” Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Canada. The United States finished with the “mostly free” designation, along with countries like Mauritius, Estonia, and Bahrain.

In Europe, eighteen countries are now at record levels of economic freedom while five others, Greece, Italy, France, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom, are now at their lowest levels since the index began twenty years ago.

In case you’re wondering where some other big nations finished, Germany came in 18th, Japan came in 25th, Israel came in 44th, Mexico came in 55th, France came in 70th, Saudi Arabia came in 77th, Brazil came in 114th, India came in 120th, Russia came in 140th, and Cuba and North Korea finished dead last.

Since the index began, the countries that have seen the most growth have been former Soviet states like Estonia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.

(Image courtesy of Jeffery Turner)

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Igor Derysh is the Managing Editor of Latest. com and a syndicated columnist whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, and Orlando Sun Sentinel, and AOL News. His work has been criticized in even more publications. Follow him on Twitter @IgorDerysh