Changes in Economic Freedom in Venezuela, Ireland, and the United States

This volume looks at the profound effect of major shifts in economic freedom in three countries: Venezuela, Ireland and the United States. While the reduction in economic freedom of the United States has been moderate relative to that of Venezuela, the decline has been substantial since 2000. As in Venezuela, the drop has been a non-partisan affair. The United States’ high-water mark in economic freedom came in 2000 with a score of 8.65 and a rank of second place, just below Hong Kong. The decline has been steady since. In 2010, the United States fell out of the top 10 and its ranking is now in the mid-teens. Just as the change in economic freedom has not been as great as in Venezuela and Ireland, the consequences have been less powerful. The United States neither soared nor sunk economically but its recent economic performance has clearly been below par. Thus far, the twenty-first-century growth of real GDP of the United States has been well below its historic average. Job growth and labor force participation have also lagged well behind their levels in recent decades. The US recovery from the Great Recession has been the slowest since World War II. Yet, the United States remains a vibrant economy with great potential if the policy course is reversed.

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