History of Free the World

In 1986, the first of a series of Fraser Institute conferences, sponsored by Liberty Fund Inc. and hosted by then Fraser Institute executive director Michael Walker along with Milton and Rose Friedman, focused on the development of a clearly defined measurement of economic freedom. In addition to the Friedmans, several of the world’s leading economists including Douglass North, Gary Becker, William Niskanen, and Gordon Tullock participated in the conferences. These conferences held from 1986 to 1994 culminated with the initial publication of Economic Freedom of the World (Gwartney, Lawson, and Block, 1996).

From the beginning, conference participants sought to carefully define economic freedom and develop an accurate measure for a large set of countries that was as fully transparent and objective as possible. We did not want our subjective views to influence the rating of any country so all data are taken from third party sources.

Background materials and conference proceedings can be found at:

In the most recent edition of the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Go To Think Tanks Report, Economic Freedom of the World was ranked as the fifth most influential report published by the world’s 6,618 think tanks. Nobel Laureate Douglass North has called it the “best available … description of efficient markets.”