The Property Rights Alliance has released the latest edition of its annual Property Rights Index, rating countries on various metrics for property rights protections. Produced in partnership with the Foundation for Economic Freedom and Minimal Government Thinkers, a think tank in the Philippines, the index ranks countries on how secure (or insecure) individuals and companies are in their ownership and use of physical, financial, and intellectual property under existing legal and judicial regimes. It covers everywhere from Albania (rank: 106 out of 129) to Zimbabwe (123) and all the countries in between, and it certainly makes for interesting reading. No coincidence, the countries at the bottom of the index are a regular rogues’ gallery of dysfunctional states, proving once again that property rights, freedom, and good government are all closely intertwined.
- Answering the first obvious question for self-interested Americans: the United States did very well, moving up two notches to 12th place, and leads the world in copyright and patent intellectual property protections. The U.S. suffers a bit, however, because of growing political instability, which seems fair.
- Above the U.S., the index is led by Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Canada, in spots 1-11 respectively.
- One of the biggest drops was seen in South Africa, which has plummeted 22 spots compared to the 2017 index, to 48th place in 2019, largely due to continuing expropriation of land with compensation.
- The very bottom of the index is not a happy place to be, as reflected by the presence of Zimbabwe, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Angola, Venezuela, Haiti, and Yemen, in 124th-129th places, respectively. Venezuela is in economic collapse, due in large part to widespread expropriation and confiscations, and Yemen is in the grips of a bloody civil war, while the DRC is effectively in anarchy.
- The PRA notes: “Only a tenth of the world’s people live in 15 countries with the strongest protections of property rights. These are also some of the wealthiest countries in the world. In fact, countries in the top quintile of the Index have a per capita income 16 times greater than those at the bottom.”
- Lorenzo Montanari, the Executive Director of Property Rights Alliance, stated: “Property rights are human rights, without them people are restrained in how they act, how they speak, and how they participate in the economy.”