People have been seeking freedom for millennia, but not freedom for all. Slaves, serfs, women, outsiders, and the defeated were not included. That changed in the last few centuries as the circle of those considered deserving of freedom expanded. Evolution continues. Two centuries ago, slavery was alive in the world in many nations, not just the United States; a century ago, women everywhere lacked full citizenship and the freedoms that go with it; more recently, sexual orientation is being removed as a barrier to freedom.
Efforts to measure freedom have only emerged in the last quarter century or so. Unfortunately, these efforts have been flawed: blurring various definitions of freedoms, confusing "other good things" with freedom, using subjective rather than objective measures, and either failing to account for economic freedom or focusing exclusively on it.
The Human Freedom project focuses on creating a comprehensive index of human freedom, which includes economic freedom and is based on the "negative" definition of freedom – in other words, the absence of barriers or coercion that prevent individuals from acting as they might wish. The first book, Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom, published by Canada's Fraser Institute and Germany's Liberales Institute in 2013, was the first step towards defining a true and accurate measurement of human freedom. In 2015 we released The Human Freedom Index: A Global Measure of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom, co-published by Canada's Fraser Institute, Germany's Liberales Institute, part of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, and the US Cato Instistute.
Report and Data
The following files require the latest version of Adobe Reader.
The data posted below contains the update for the Human Freedom Index containing 2013 data, the most recently available at the time of posting.
Copyright © 2016 The Fraser Institute. All rights reserved.