Global Freedom Is on the Decline

The vast majority of the world’s population is less free today than it was about a decade ago—and all residents of the world’s 10 most populated countries have seen their freedoms decline over the same period.

The annual Human Freedom Index is a Canadian think tank that reveals this worrying conclusion. This annual report, produced annually by libertarian Cato Institute as well as the Frasier Institute, contains the Human Freedom Index. Out of the total 156 jurisdictions that were included in the analysis, this index ranks America as the 15th most libertarian country.

Switzerland, New Zealand and Denmark are the top five most free countries. Estonia, Ireland, Estonia, New Zealand, Denmark and Denmark round out the list. The rankings take into consideration 82 indicators that measure economic, civil, and personal freedoms.

There must be a place that is considered to have the most freedomst people in the world. But global trends seem to be in the wrong direction. The authors of this report, which was first published in 2008 and is now available for the second time, note that freedom has declined to around 83 percent. With 40 percent of world’s population now living in countries that have the lowest freedom scores, the gap between those who are most free and those who are least free has also increased.

“The decline in fundamental rights represents a disturbing trend that was occurring even before the world experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and political effects,” writes Ian Vásquez, vice president of international studies at Cato. The areas where there was the most global fall in freedom were freedoms of expression and religion as well freedoms of association, assembly, or civil society. Our report doesn’t yet include freedom data for 2020 but we expect future reports to show a decline in global freedom indicators.

The new report shows that freedom is in decline both in absolute and relative terms in the United States. Although the U.S. is still well ahead of global averages, it ranked seventh on the list in 2008.

United States of America

But the decline in freedom in the United States is nothing compared to what has happened in Hungary—a country now routinely (and wrongly) held up by segments of the nationalist right as an example that America should seek to emulate. This year, Hungary is ranked 59th on the index. It was 29th in 2009 when it was at its highest. Recent efforts by strongman dictator Viktor Orbán to curtail freedom of expression and erode the rule of law are clearly reflected in the ratings, with Hungary now ranking considerably less free than its European neighbors:


As There are reasons Last month it was noted that the double threat of political populism as well as the COVID-19 epidemic have caused a decline in democracy around the world. International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (a non-profit based in Sweden) warns that there are three times as many countries becoming more authoritarian according to the group’s calculations. It is now the fifth year consecutively that this trend has continued.

Freedom and democracy are not necessarily synonymous—and sometimes can be quite in tension—but democratic governments throughout history have done a better job of protecting and promoting freedom than more authoritarian regimes. Both of these values are now in decline.