West Virginia University College of Business & Economics Professor Joshua Hall’s “Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report” is the subject of a new PBS documentary.

Hall, an associate professor of economics, graduated from West Virginia University in 2007 and has co-authored the widely-cited annual report. Released worldwide every September, the report scores and ranks 151 countries on the extent to which their policies and institutions are consistent with personal choice, voluntary exchange, and the freedom to enter and compete in markets.

The report is the subject of a documentary entitled “Economic Freedom in Action: Changing Lives” being aired nationally on PBS. A special closed viewing of the documentary will be hosted by B&E at the Mountainlair on Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. The event will be held in the Gluck Theater and is free and open to the public.

This one-hour documentary travels the globe to profile inspiring entrepreneurs from nations that have increased economic freedom for their citizens – from Zambia to Chile, and from South Korea to Slovakia.

The documentary is currently airing around the country on PBS TV stations.

“The measurement of economic freedom is important because, as Lord Kelvin pointed out long ago, until you can measure something your knowledge of it is meager and unsatisfactory. Measuring economic freedom has allowed scholars around the world to show that more economic freedom is associated with higher levels of prosperity, more political and civil liberties, and longer life spans,” Hall said.

Hong Kong again topped the rankings of 151 countries and territories, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland. The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 17th in the world.

“Another reason measuring economic freedom is important is to document changes in countries over time. The United States was the second most economically free country in the world as recently as 2000 and now we are behind countries like Canada, Denmark and Estonia. Our report helps document the sources of this decline, including increased government spending, weakened rule of law and protection of private property rights, and increased regulations on labor, business and credit,” Hall said.

Venezuela has the lowest level of economic freedom worldwide, with Myanmar, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and Chad rounding out the bottom five countries. Some nations, like North Korea and Cuba, are not ranked because of a lack of data.

The annual Economic Freedom of the World report is authored by Hall, James Gwartney of Florida State University and Robert Lawson of Southern Methodist University. The report is produced by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank, in cooperation with the Economic Freedom Network, a group of independent research and educational institutes in nearly 90 nations and territories worldwide. It uses 42 variables to create an index ranking countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom. This year’s publication ranks 151 nations representing more than 95 percent of the world’s population for 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.



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