Economic Freedom of the World, 1975-1995


308 pages
ISBN 0-88975-157-9
DDC 330.9'045




Reviewed by Xavier de Vanssay

Xavier De Vanssay is an associate professor of economics at York
University in Toronto.


For more than 10 years, some free-market economists (led by Milton
Friedman) have been working on the concept of economic freedom and its
measurement. Unlike political or civil freedoms, which measure,
respectively, the degree of participation in the political process and
such rights as freedom of the press or of religion, economic freedom
deals with such issues as personal choice, the protection of private
property, and freedom of exchange.

In this book, the authors have summarized the literature on the subject
and constructed their own index of economic freedom across more than 100
countries and over a 20-year period. The construction of an index
generally involves two steps. The first one is the choice of the
components. Here the authors have chosen 17 economic variables covering
monetary policy, government operations, taxation, and trade
restrictions. The second step is the choice of three relative weights to
be attached to each component. The data and the sources are included in
the book, allowing readers to construct their own index. The authors’
findings lead them to conclude that more economic freedom results in
more economic growth (as measured by real income per capita growth).

With its wealth of data, this book will be of considerable use to
anyone wanting to study the economic institutions of a particular
country. Economists and political scientists doing empirical work on
economic growth using cross-section, time-series, and pooled data will
also find the book invaluable.


Gwartney, James, Robert Lawson, and Walter Block., “Economic Freedom of the World, 1975-1995,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023,