NZ leads way in human freedom index

New Zealand leads the way in human freedom according to an international index that ranks 123 countries.

The Canadian Fraser Institute has released its report evaluating how each country measures in security and safety, movement, expression and relationship freedoms.

New Zealand topped the index as offering the highest level of human freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands and Hong Kong.

Australia came in fourth. The US ranked seventh.

The United Kingdom ranked 18th, ahead of France at 33 and Germany, which came in 35th on the list.

The lowest-ranked countries were Zimbabwe, Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria.

The index was contained in a new book, Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom, which examined the characteristics of freedom and how it could best be measured and compared between different nations.

The book's editor, Fred McMahon, said the intention was to measure the degree to which people were free to enjoy classic civil liberties-freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly-in each country surveyed.

"We also look at indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms."

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organisation .

Top 10 Countries

1. New Zealand
2. Netherlands
3. Hong Kong
4. Australia
4. Canada
4. Ireland
7. United States of America
7. Denmark
9. Japan
9. Estonia

Bottom 10 Countries

114. Cameroon
115. Burundi
116. Iran
117. Algeria
118. Democratic Republic of Congo
119. Syria
120. Sri Lanka
121. Pakistan
122. Burma
123. Zimbabwe


Free to work as slaves

The "Human Freedom Index" is a 50/50 combination of the "Index of Personal Freedom" and a parallel index of "Economic Freedom" (a fact that is misleadingly hidden in Figure 1, p. 66 of the book). In the personal freedom component, freedom is measured as factors such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of dress code, etc. However, it makes no mention of freedom to earn decent wages. That part is conveniently covered under economic freedom but, bizarrely, rather than being seen as positive, factors such as guaranteed minimum wages and rights for employees are seen as negatively impacting on our freedom. There is, in fact, nothing (check the reports and the construction of the indices) to suggest that a country of slaves couldn't top the index .. as long as they were free to do whatever they could afford (i.e. nothing). I don't see that as freedom.

I would love to see New Zealand journalists critically analyse this work rather than presenting it unquestioned as a validation of our individual rights. They could start by investigating the independence of the Fraser Institute.


Clearly it wasn't focused on the New Zealand workplace. In 2010, a joint university research team from Auckland, Waikato, Massey and London polled more than 1700 health, education, hospitality and travel workers. 17.8 per cent were identified as victims of bullying while the international range was between 5 per cent and 20 per cent.

I'd be interested to know whether bullying was included in any index of freedom in the article above.

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