Hong Kong has upheld its status as the world's freest economy to do business for the 17th consecutive year, according to the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom conducted by The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.
The Index ranks economies according to their economic freedom. The principles of economic freedom emphasized in the Index are individual empowerment, non-discimination, and the promotion of competition.
Singapore remains a close second, narrowing the gap with Hong Kong. Australia and New Zealand have maintained their previous rankings of 3rd and 4th in the 2011 Index, while Switzerland climbed up to the 5th spot, overtaking Ireland, which fell to 7th place. These top six economies are the only countries to achieve scores above 80 on the 0 to 100 economic freedom grading scale.
"The relative strength of the “free” economies is no accident. Their strong commitment to all facets of economic freedom has endowed their economies with a high degree of resilience. All are recovering rapidly from the shocks of the global slowdown," says the study.
The United States dropped to the 9th spot while mainland China was ranked 135 among 179 economies. Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea landed on the bottom of the list.
The study notes that economic freedom advanced this year, regaining much of the momentum lost during the fiscal crisis and global recession. The global average economic freedom score for the 2011 Index is 59.7, a 0.3 point increase from last year.
"Many governments around the world have rededicated themselves to fiscal soundness, openness and reform, and the majority of countries are once again on a positive path to greater freedom," says the study.
MORE ARTICLES ON ECONOMIC FREEDOM