Economic Freedom of the World

Do you prefer the world of Adam Smith or the world of Karl Marx? Prof. Robert Lawson tells the story of his numerous discussions about this very question with his friends in college. Even after years of theoretical discussion with his friends, a conclusion was never reached between them.  Prof. Robert Lawson now works on the Economic Freedom of the World project, which is an empirical study that attempts to answer this same question. In order to do this, the study compares data related to economic freedom and quality of life. It finds that countries with institutions resembling those advocated by Adam Smith tend to provide the highest quality of life to its citizens.

Read the latest edition of the Economic Freedom of the World report.

Credits: This lecture was delivered in 2009 at the Metropolitan State College of Denver School of Business, as part of the Exploring Economic Freedom Lecture Series, directed by Prof. Alexandre Padilla. This video was produced and directed by Scott Houck, and edited by Adrienne Christy. Video production provided by the Educational Technology Center at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Video used by Learn Liberty with permission.


  1. Matt Wavle

    New Zealand or Chile, After seeing this report and video, I think either would be a nice place to visit, and if needed, relocate.  Interesting report.  An improving score on a Freedom Index ought to be a goal of all free peoples, Way to go Chile!

  2. Matt Wavle

    I’m all for Adam Smith’s world! … or John Galt’s.

  3. Anderson Chaves


  4. GeF

    other alternatives

  5. ndvo

    On 1:00:00 his answer was excellent. Why is super stars so well paid in the free market? A socialist may not accept that with so little work a super star may get such a high pay. Well, they get such a high pay because people are willing to pay them. Jealousy is really not a sufficient reason to take freedom away.

  6. Lukas Koube

    man, i love lectures like this….heavily empirical discussions are always the most useful. i will def check out that book!

  7. Lukas Koube

    the lady at 50:00 is terrible….we dont need to know your life story, just make your point. furthermore, people on the left continually make derisive comments about how capitalists are greedy, selfish, and stupid, so this entire “holier than thou” attitude is rather hypocritical. 

  8. Lukas Koube

    Who is John Galt?

  9. Meyer Fabian

    and her comments regarding Friedman were clearly wrong.

  10. muppet

    Indeed… for some reason people get away with saying that “keeping your own money is greedy” and yet “taking other people’s money is not greedy”. Bizarre. 

    Interestingly, the data from the US suggests that people who believe in government redistribution tend to give less personally, and people who believe in individual responsibility and economic freedom tend to give more personally. 

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