South Africans less economically free as country drops further in global ranking

Devina Haripersad

SA ranked 99th out of 165 countries analysed. In 2000, it ranked 47th.

South Africans less economically free as country drops even further in ranking

Photo: iStock

South Africa ranks 99th out of 165 countries and territories included in the Economic Freedom of the World: 2022 Annual Report, that was recently released by the Free Market Foundation in conjunction with Canada’s Fraser Institute.

Last year, South Africa ranked 93 and has, therefore, deteriorated further in the rankings. The country’s best ranking of 47th was achieved in 2000.

Low ranking due to decline in economic activity

According to FMF Director, Eustace Davie, the reason for the deterioration in the economic freedom ranking is clearly visible in the deterioration in economic activity in the country. “Mass unemployment is a particularly significant and tragic consequence of that deterioration,” he said.

When jurisdictions increase taxes and regulations, the people become less economically free, which means slower economic growth and less investment.

Hong Kong and Singapore again top the index, continuing their streak as first and second respectively, while Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, United States, Estonia, Mauritius, and Ireland round out the top 10.


The 10 lowest rated countries

The lowest ranked countries were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Republic of Congo, Iran, Libya, Argentina, Syrian Arab Republic, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Venezuela. (Despotic countries such as North Korea and Cuba can’t be ranked due to lack of data.)

The rankings of other major countries include Japan (12th), Canada (14th), Germany (24th), Italy (43rd), France (54th), Mexico (65th), India (90th), Russia (94th), Brazil (114th) and China (116th).

According to research in top peer-reviewed academic journals, people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer lives.


“Where people are free to pursue their own opportunities and make their own choices, they lead more prosperous, happier and healthier lives,” McMahon said.

South Africa’s scores in key components of economic freedom (from 1 to 10 where a higher value indicates a higher level of economic freedom):

“All South Africans who have any influence on the economy of the country should take note of the detailed analysis of the economy that this research provides,” said Davie.

“This includes Members of Parliament, the Reserve Bank, business leaders, government officials, members of all political parties and commentators on economic matters. The message is clear. The greater the level of economic freedom in the country, the better off citizens of the country will be.

“There is no reason why South Africans should not be as economically free or even more free than people living in Estonia, Mauritius, or Ireland. The people of South Africa should demand that their country set out to become one of the freest in the world, just as Mauritians set out to do and achieved in 20 years.”

The report, launched in 1996, measures economic freedom – the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions – by analysing several indicators including regulation, size of government, property rights, government spending and taxation.