The U.S.A. is seen as a beacon of freedom around the world, but it's not as free as it could be in some important areas, according to a new report. The Cato Institute's annual Economic Freedom of the World report ranks the U.S. just 11th in the world for economic freedom, tied with Canada. America’s ranking is up from 13th on last year's list. Hong Kong was number one for the second straight year, while Venezuela ranked last at number 159.
The report looks at several factors to determine a nation's level of economic freedom. "First of all, the size of the state...by which we mean the amount of money which the government spends in terms of taxes collected and spent," says Marian Tupy, policy analyst at Cato's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. Other factors in the rankings include government regulations, access to the legal system and private property rights.
International trade is another major consideration that has dragged down the U.S. in the rankings. "The United States has become much more protectionist in the last 15 years or so, whereas other countries have become more free trade," says Tupy. "We have to trust the American worker to be able to make it on his or her own in the global marketplace without protectionist measures." President Trump has pushed for more limits on free trade since taking office, such as calling for a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The U.S. did improve across most of the categories in this year's study, but Tupy believes we still have a long way to go. "Through deregulation and through free markets we can obviously improve our standing in terms of economic freedom, but we can also generate much more economic growth," he says.