Thursday 3 April 2014

Personal Freedom: NZ is choice

Another day, another ranking that has NZ at the top of the world on personal freedom. Today's edition: a DC think tank puts NZ first on a "Social Progress" index. See the New York Times, or the Christchurch Press. Here's the press release.

Here's the new rankings on the things most generally considered important civil liberties for libertarians. I've not looked at their methods at all. But that rather a few places come to similar conclusions about personal freedom in New Zealand suggests that there may be something to it.

We rank poorly on contraception as accessing abortion remains de jure difficult even if de facto easy in most parts of the country. I'm surprised they ranked NZ lower than the US on "tolerance for homosexuals": we went pretty quickly from Civil Union legislation under Helen Clark to marriage equality under John Key (albeit via private member's bill). Some US states are there, but most aren't. On the other hand, I think that the table overstates the tolerance for immigrants here.

Private property rights, civil liberties: for most plausible bundles of preferred rights, we beat the US. We do far worse than some U.S. states on drug rights.

If you want fewer stories like this and more stories like this, click this. Failure to vote with your feet constitutes endorsement too.


  1. yes, its not too bad here,we do have personal freedom of expression, and that is good.
    If anything I am more free in Thailand than here, though.
    They don't take have so many trivial rules.
    The people are very monetary there, in Thailand where wealth denotes status.
    It took my Thai wife quite some time to come to grips with the
    fundamental nature of New Zealanders.
    It is good. I have huge liberty in my own Country

  2. The immigration question appears to be based on this.
    I know little about survey design, but the question seems to be asking if respondents think their communities are good places for immigrants to live. I think it would be more revealing (although far more difficult) to poll migrants themselves on that question.

  3. "Failure to vote with your feet constitutes endorsement too." In some circumstances, maybe. But sometimes voting with your feet might be impossible. I wouldn't blame slavery on the slaves who fail to buy their own freedom.

  4. Tim, totally agree: some fraction of US libertarians just can't afford to move. Others find the tradeoff too bad: you're leaving friends and family. And that's fine: I'm a libertarian pluralist too. But that's a pretty sharp contrast to the very strong value many libertarians claim to place on freedom. I think it's mostly cheap talk.