Israel’s economic freedom ranking falls slightly


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel ranks 83rd in the world in economic freedom, down two spots from last year, according to a new report.

The Economic Freedom of the World Annual report issued Tuesday was based on data from 2009. Israel has now dropped 35 spots since 2005, according to the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, which publishes the report in Israel. The report ranks 141 countries.

"The report puts recent middle-class protests over the cost of living in context," said Corinne Sauer, the institute’s director. "The level of economic freedom in Israel is in decline. The rise in the cost of living is directly linked with lack of economic freedom and competitiveness."

Israel is ranked 121st in tariff rates. Sauer pointed out that high taxes and import barriers on automobiles in Israel mean there is little competition, and Israelis pay more and have less choice than they would in a competitive market.

On the size of its government, where it scored 4.6 out of a possible 10, Israel was ranked 127th. It finished 107th in terms of regulation, receiving low scores for administrative requirements and bureaucratic costs.

Hong Kong was ranked first in the report, ahead of Singapore, New Zealand and Switzerland. The United States was No. 10, down from seventh the previous year.

The least economically free country was Zimbabwe, followed by Myanmar, Venezuela and Angola.

The report was created by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and Professor Paul Walker in the 1970s and is prepared by Canada’s Fraser Institute in cooperation with independent institutes in 85 countries, including the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies in Israel.

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