Nepal retains its position in the Seventh Annual Human Freedom Index co-published by the Cato Institute and the Fraser Institute in Canada yesterday.

The HFI ranks 84th out of 165 countries and territories based on 82 distinct indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedom, using data from 2008 to 2019, the most recent year for which sufficient data are available.

According to HFI-2019, Nepal has scored 7.12 out of 10 in human freedom.

Similarly, Nepal's scores in personal freedom and economic freedom are 7.41 and 6.71, respectively.

Despite Nepal is at 84th position globally in terms of human freedom, it ranks first among the South Asian countries - Bhutan 98th, Sri Lanka 112nd, India 119th, Bangladesh 142nd and Pakistan 145th. Afghanistan and Maldives are not included in the index. The countries that took the top 10 places, in order, were Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Canada and Finland (tied at 6), Australia, Sweden, and Luxembourg. The ten least-free countries in descending order are Libya, Burundi and Iraq (tied at 157), Somalia, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela, and Syria.

As per the index, freedom has declined for 83 per cent of the world's population since 2008. "The report shows the importance of overall freedom in improving human well-being and enabling people to lead the lives they want to live," said Ian Vásquez, vice president for international studies at the Cato Institute and co-author of the index at the report. "The data are especially worrisome since they are pre-pandemic and we expect to see further deterioration in future reports," he said.

Overall, the report finds that there is an unequal distribution of freedom in the world, with only 14.6 per cent of the world's population living in the top quartile of jurisdictions in the HFI and 40.3 per cent living in the bottom quartile.

The gap in human freedom between the most-free and the leastfree jurisdictions has widened since 2008, increasing by 6.6 per cent when comparing the top and bottom quartile of nations in the HFI.

The HFI captures the degree to which people are free to enjoy important rights such as freedom of speech, religion, association, and assembly, and measures freedom of movement, women's freedoms, crime and violence, and legal discrimination against same-sex relationships.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.