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Fraser Institute News Release: Hong Kong plummets to 46th spot in latest Human Freedom ranking as China continues to violate “one country, two systems” pact

Fraser Institute 3 mins read

TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As a result of increasing restrictions on liberties in Hong Kong—once among the freest places on earth—it now ranks 46th in the latest Human Freedom Index report, released today by Canada’s Fraser Institute and the U.S.-based Cato Institute.

As recently as 2010, Hong Kong was the 3rd freest jurisdiction on earth. Mainland China has always been less free than the territory and this year, China ranks 149th out of 165 jurisdictions.

“Freedom has suffered a precipitous decline in Hong Kong, but its tragic descent into oppression provides important lessons about the value of freedom,” said Fred McMahon, resident fellow at the Fraser Institute and co-author of this year’s report.

The index measures personal freedom—the rule of law, safety and security, identity and relationships (i.e. the freedom to choose your relationship partner), freedom of movement, speech, assembly and religion—alongside economic freedom, the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions.

This year’s report ranks 165 jurisdictions around the world. It finds that from 2019 to 2021 (the latest year of available data), 89.8 per cent of the world’s population experienced a decline in freedom.

In Hong Kong, the areas that show the most pronounced declines in this year’s report are: The rule of law, freedom of expression, and freedom of association and assembly.

"Suppression in Hong Kong continues to ramp up as the jailing of journalists and pro-freedom advocates grows, with arrest warrants issued for exiled activists to quash even overseas dissent," said Ian Vásquez, report co-author and vice president of international studies at the Cato Institute.

Switzerland, once again, tops this year’s freedom ranking followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia and Sweden (tied for 5th). The five least-free countries are (in descending order) Iran, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen and Syria.

Overall worldwide rankings for other significant countries include Taiwan (12), Canada (13), Japan (16), the United Kingdom and the United States (tied at 17), Germany (21), South Korea (28), France (39), Ukraine (83) Mexico (95), and India (109).

Crucially, people in freer jurisdictions are more prosperous than those in less-free jurisdictions. For example, the average per-capita income for the top-quartile of jurisdictions on the index was US$47,421 compared to US$14,157 for the least-free quartile in 2021.

“Human freedom increases prosperity and human well-being and has powered the growth of some of the most remarkable jurisdictions in the world, including Hong Kong,” McMahon said.

The complete index, a joint project of the Fraser Institute and the Cato Institute, is available as a free PDF download at The co-authors of the report are Ian Vásquez, Fred McMahon, Ryan Murphy, associate professor, Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom, Southern Methodist University, and Guillermina Sutter Schneider, data scientist and former research and project director at the Cato Institute.

The 10 freest and the least-free countries in 2021:

The 10 freest jurisdictions

1. Switzerland
2. New Zealand
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Estonia
6. Sweden
7. Iceland
8. Luxembourg
9. Finland
10. Norway

The 10 least-free countries

156. Iraq
157. Saudi Arabia
157. Somalia
159. Egypt
160. Venezuela
161. Iran
162. Myanmar
163. Sudan
164. Yemen
165. Syria

Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom
Fraser Institute

To arrange media interviews or for more information, please contact:
Drue MacPherson, Media Relations Coordinator, Fraser Institute
(604) 688-0221 Ext. 721

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

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