Freedom in Balkans – Part 3: Economy

Article published on Jan. 16, 2009
community published
Article published on Jan. 16, 2009
Economic freedom is highly valued element especially in U.S. society and its imitators. Conservative politics claims that greater economic freedom generates opportunities for people, creates wealth and respect for human rights. In Nordic countries the approach is different and the economic freedom of one individual – human or company – can be limited if it limits other peoples freedom.
However this study is based to traditional American conservative formula and everybody can value the output against that background.

The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute - a think tank - whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. For over a decade this Washington’s preeminent think tank has tracked economic freedom around the world with its main publication ''The Index of Economic Freedom. '' The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as follows:

The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labour, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself. In other words, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state.

The 2009 Index of Economic Freedom covers 183 countries and measures 10 separate components of economic freedom. To table below I have picked the Balkan countries and their scores with each of those measures and the picture is following:


If the Overall score were 100-80 the country was defined to be Free, countries with score 79.9-70 were Mostly free, countries with score 69.9-60 Moderately free, countries with score 59.9-50 Mostly unfreeand countries with score between 49.9-0 were defined as Repressed. So according The 2009 Index of Economic Freedom Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia were Moderately free and the rest of Balkan countries were Mostly unfree.

Last autumn I wrote about ''competitiveness of Balkans'' referring “Global Economic Competitiveness Report 2008-2009” of The World Economic Forum, which approaches economic freedom a bit wider angle. Their measures include e.g. health, education, public and private institutions, infrastructure and innovations so perspective is a bit more social than that of hard line conservatives. Anyway in report mentioned Slovenia was ranked as the most competitive economy in the Balkans with rank 42 out of 134 countries polled followed Croatia (61), Greece (67), Romania (68), Bulgaria (76), Serbia (85), Macedonia (89), Bosnia-Herzegovina (107) and Albania (108).

If compared the order between economic freedom and competitiveness the biggest difference are ranks of Croatia and Albania – almost opposite positions – so one could say that free economy does not necessary create high competitiveness and mostly unfree economy can sometimes be very competitive.