Bangladesh continues to suffer near the bottom of the latest Human Freedom Index, released on Wednesday.
Bangladesh moved up one notch and ranked 138th out of 162 economies in 2019.
The country scored 5.77 out of 10, which is 0.08 point higher than it posted in 2016.
On a scale of zero to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the average human freedom rating for all countries was 6.89.
The index presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint.
India with a score of 6.64 ranked 94th – top in South Asia, followed by Bhutan 105th with a score of 6.53, Nepal 107th with a score of 6.51 and Sri Lanka 110th with a score of 6.41.
Pakistan, which is at the bottom of the index, ranked 140th with a score of 5.59.
The Human Freedom Index was highest for North America (Canada and the United States), Western Europe, and East Asia; it was lowest for South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
This fifth annual index which covers 162 countries based on 76 distinct indicators of personal, civil, and economic freedom, using data from 2008 to 2017, was co-published by three think-tanks – Cato Institute, Frater Institute and Liberales Institut.
Bangladesh scored 6.18 in terms of economic freedom, lower than its 6.3 score in 2016; it also got 5.37 in personal freedom, a slightly higher than its score in 2016.
Economic freedom allows people to prosper in a country without intervention from the government or economic authority.
Under personal freedom, Bangladesh scored lowest in "rule of law" with a 3.1 score out of 10. This was greatly affected by a 1.5 score in procedural justice, followed by 3.4 in criminal justice and 3.7 in civil justice.
The country also posted a 7.0 score out of 10 in security and safety as well as in association, assembly, and civil society, expression and information.
A higher level of women's freedom has contributed to a full score – 10 out of 10 – in terms of movement. Last year, the score was 5.0.
Meanwhile, the country scored poorly in political pressure and control media, procedural justice, laws and regulations that influence media.
Identity and relationships
Bangladesh got zero for divorce and legal gender. It is noted that women in Bangladesh do not have the same rights over divorce as men have, reads the report.
The study finds that over the past decade, freedom has declined around the world. Among countries included in this year's and last year's reports, the level of freedom decreased slightly (−0.01) compared with 2016, with 70 countries increasing their ratings and 88 decreasing.
In fact, of the 142 jurisdictions with data since 2008, 79 have declined in freedom while 61 have increased.
Freest and least free economies
New Zealand, Switzerland and Hong Kong have retained their top positions in the human freedom ranking for the second consecutive year.
Syria is at the bottom economy, followed by Venezuela, Yemen, Sudan and Iraq.
Japan is the freest country in Asia, which ranked 25th globally, followed by South Korea 27th, Singapore 30th.
Out of 10 regions, the highest levels of freedom are in North America – Canada and the United States – Western Europe, and East Asia. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.
Around 16 percent of the world's population lives in the top quartile of nations in the index, while 35 percent lives in the bottom quartile of countries that have the lowest levels of freedom.
Women-specific freedoms – as measured by five indicators in the index – are strongest in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia and are least protected in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia reads the report.
Human is free in the high income countries
The freest countries in the world have much higher per capita income than those in less free countries.
Human freedom ranking also finds a strong relationship between human freedom and democracy. Hong Kong is an outlier in this regard.
Crucially, people in freer countries are more prosperous than those in less-free countries.
For instance, the average per capita income for the top-quartile countries on the index was $40,171 compared to $15,721 for the least-free quartile in 2017.
"When people are free, they have greater opportunity to prosper and they lead happier healthier lives," said McMahon, editor of the report.