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New Index Ranks 178 Countries By Economic Freedom

Customers shop at Crimean Farmstead, Russia's first specialized grocery which sells products from annexed Crimea, in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, in January 2015.

A new report says economic freedom in several countries of the Baltics, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and Central Asia have jumped ahead of Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Russia’s economy was deemed “mostly unfree” and was ranked at 143rd out of 178 countries in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, prepared by The Heritage Foundation think tank and The Wall Street Journal.

Estonia was the highest ranked former Soviet republic.

At eighth in the world, its economic freedom score was higher than the 12th-ranked United States and the 13th-ranked United Kingdom.

Lithuania was ranked 15th, one place ahead of Germany, while Georgia was 22nd.

All of those economies were rated “mostly free.”

"Moderately free" economies and their rankings included Latvia, ranked 37th; Armenia, 52nd; Macedonia, 53rd; Romania, 57th; Kazakhstan, 69th; Kyrgyzstan, 82nd; Azerbaijan, 85th; and Serbia, 90th.

"Mostly unfree" economies included Bosnia and Herzegovina, 97th; Moldova, 111th; Pakistan, 121st; Tajikistan, 140th; and Russia, 143rd.

Countries with “repressed” economies include Belarus, 153rd; Uzbekistan, 160th; Ukraine, 162nd; Iran, 171st; Turkmenistan, 172nd.

Scores and rankings were not available for Afghanistan, Iraq, or Kosovo.

Launched in 1995, the index evaluates countries in four broad areas of economic freedom.

Measurements were made to assess the rule of law, regulatory efficiency, limitations on government, and the openness of markets in each country.

Specific categories that examined included property rights, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, and government spending.

The level of freedom was also measured for business activities, the labor market, monetary policy, trade, investment, and financial transactions.

The index determined that about 4.5 billion people, or about 65 percent of the world’s population, live in economically “unfree” countries.

More than half of those people live in China and India.

Twenty-six countries have “repressed” economies.

Only five earned the designation as a “free” economy -- Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland.

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