What is the one thing all of us want in life? Most people would probably answer happiness or life-satisfaction. What if I told you that economic freedom directly contributes to the well-being of a nation, as well as your individual quality of life? (You can read more about economic freedom in this essay by Matt Mitchell).
If you earn more than $34,000 per year, you are in the wealthiest 1% of the world. The majority who enjoy their 1% status owe their prosperity to the power of economic freedom.
Not only that, but the average life expectancy in the top ten most economically free nations is almost 20 years longer than the life expectancy of the bottom ten. What could you do with 20 more years of your life? Think about earning potential as well as what you could experience: twenty years of a job you love, seeing your grandchildren grow up and get married, traveling to places you never have before: the possibilities are endless.
This video sums up other benefits of economic freedom and what it means to you:
Clearly, there is a strong connection between levels of economic freedom, and the quality of life of their citizens. I am no expert, just a college student who is looking ahead to my future and examining the past for indications of what to expect for my happiness. And I don’t like what I see.
The United States is currently among the top nations for economic freedom, but each year this ranking seems to fall. The decline can be attributed to a variety of factors, which are summed up here in this video
The Economic Freedom of the World: 2011 Annual Report by the Fraser Institute ranked the United States (and many other countries) by a variety of measures to determine the standing of their economic freedom. Looking at the data, one area stands out as a red flag for concern: freedom to trade internationally.
In 1980, the United States ranked 8th out of 141 countries: a solid mark for the size of our economy. By 1990, we were ranked 13th, still in the top 10%. By 2000, we had slipped to 25th, almost a 100% decrease in ranking.
In 2009 we had an even worse ranking: 44th, yet another steep drop, placing us in the 70th percentile. That’s nowhere near the podium, if we are going by the Olympic scale of Gold, Silver, and Bronze. What can be done to increase our ranking?
A decrease in the freedom to trade internationally means that it is harder for American made products to be exported overseas, which means less American jobs. This is concerning because life satisfaction and happiness surely decrease when people are out of work. (For more on the power of trade, read this essay by Donald Boudreaux).
As a whole, the benefit of being a nation that is more economically free speaks volumes for the quality of life that its citizens have. Qualities such as lower unemployment, a longer life expectancy, and better protected civil rights sure seem like a good start toward maximizing the life satisfaction of the world’s citizens.
If economic freedom provides all of that, what’s not to like?