The Human Freedom Index 2015

Printer-friendly version
Human Freedom Index

The Human Freedom Index presents a broad measure of human freedom around the world through the use of 76 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms to rank 152 countries around the world. It is the most comprehensive freedom index so far created for a globally meaningful set of countries. The index ranks countries beginning in 2008, the earliest year for which a robust enough index could be produced. This preliminary report will be updated (using data for 2013) and subsequently presented and updated on a yearly basis.

The index captures the degree to which people are free to enjoy the major freedoms often referred to as civil liberties—freedom of speech, religion, and association and assembly —in the countries in the survey. In addition, it includes indicators on rule of law, crime and violence, freedom of movement, and legal discrimination against same-sex relationships. It also includes five variables pertaining to women’s freedom that are found in various categories of the index.

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the nonweighted average rating for 152 countries in 2012 was 6.96. The level of global freedom stayed about the same compared to 2008, but almost all countries experienced changes in their ratings, with about half of those increasing their ratings and half decreasing.

A central purpose of this report is to get a general but reasonably accurate picture of the extent of overall freedom in the world. A larger purpose is to more carefully explore what we mean by freedom and to better understand its relationship to any number of other social and economic phenomena. This research could also help us more objectively observe the ways in which various freedoms—be they economic or civil, for example—interact with one another.

It reflects a multi-year program of research and discussions held in Europe and North America, involving scholars from many disciplines and countries. It uses, adapts, and evolves the methodologies that emerged from the decades-long work of the Fraser Institute to define and measure economic freedom with the Economic Freedom of the World index. The economic freedom project has demonstrated the power of such measurement to increase understanding about the concept of freedom and its contribution to human well-being.

More from this study