DEFINITION of 'Index Of Economic Freedom'
A ranking of countries or states based on the number and intensity of government regulations on wealth-creating activity. Metrics that an economic freedom index evaluates include international trade restrictions, government spending relative to GDP, occupational licensing requirements, private property rights, minimum wage laws and other government-controlled factors that affect people's ability to earn a living and keep what they earn. Such indexes are usually produced by economic think tanks.
BREAKING DOWN 'Index Of Economic Freedom'
One such index is produced by the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal. Its 2011 index ranked Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland as the most economically free, in that order. The United States ranked ninth. The index both compares countries to each other and compares overall levels of economic freedom across time.