New Zealand’s economic freedom score is 82.1, making its economy the 3rd freest in the 2015 Index. Its score is up by 0.9 point, with improvements in the management of government spending, monetary freedom, and labor freedom outweighing declines in freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, and business freedom. New Zealand is ranked 3rd out of 42 countries in the Asia–Pacific region and 3rd in the world.
New Zealand’s economic development over the past few decades has been built on principles of market openness and free trade. Reforms in the 1980s opened the economy to imports, reduced the size of government, and lowered the tax burden. These changes, enhanced in recent decades, have solidified the economy’s ranking among the world’s freest, with a high standard of living and low rates of poverty.
New Zealand’s prosperity rests on its well-established rule of law. The economy is the least corrupt in the world, and property rights are strongly protected. Entrepreneurs generally find regulations efficient, and the labor market is efficient in allocating labor. Despite having one of the world’s most open financial sectors, New Zealand banks avoided the worst effects of the global financial crisis.
New Zealand is tied with Denmark for first place out of 177 countries in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index. It is renowned for its efforts to penalize bribery and ensure a transparent, competitive, and corruption-free government procurement system. The judicial system is independent and functions well. Private property rights are strongly protected, and contracts are notably secure.
The entrepreneurial framework is transparent and efficient. Starting a business takes one procedure and one day on average. The labor market is flexible, with moderate non-salary costs and flexible work-hours regulations. New Zealand has the lowest subsidies of any OECD country. It removed all farm subsidies two decades ago and spurred the development of a diversified agriculture sector.