A Letter From Hernando De Soto
Once again, I must congratulate Property Rights Alliance and Dr. Sary Levy for their monumental effort in finishing the annual International Property Rights Index.
Progress over the last 12 months strengthening property rights systems remained incremental, yet consistent. The world’s IPRI average increased only 1.95% to 5.74. Finland traded places with New Zealand for the top spot by improving access to loans and patent protection.
In fact, Finland’s improvement in this area also allowed it to usurp the United States to become the world leader in protection of intellectual property rights.
I am confident, however, that the world’s largest economy will recover from this slight setback. After all, the citizens residing in the $19 trillion economy are among the world’s top 13% in their ability to enjoy a robust property rights ecosystem allowing them to own and use their land, their businesses, and their inventions with relative ease compared to the rest of the world.
The other 6 billion people are unable to enjoy the same advantages. Weak property rights systems not only blind economies from realizing the immense hidden capital of their entrepreneurs, but they withhold them from other benefits as evidenced through the powerful correlations in this year’s Index: human freedom, economic liberty, perception of corruption, civic activism, and even the ability to be connected to the internet, to name a few.
It is heartening to see Georgia, a country using blockchain, the immutable ledger technology, earning another perfect 10 in the Index for registering property. It is an example of how technology can enable countries, even from the former Soviet Union, one of the weakest regions in the world in terms of property rights, to leapfrog over the best.
I commend all the international collaborators that have contributed to the Index. Property rights are universal, and this year’s case studies document indigenous efforts from all over the globe to realize property rights from South Africa, the Ukraine, Nepal, and Malaysia. There is also a historical study on the role of property rights in Japan’s exceptional economic recovery after losing an empire and surviving nuclear devastation in WWII. Every year the Index also includes a special case study from a religious perspective, and this year the Index starts a new tradition of including a special case study from an economics school, starting with the Austrian school.
I consider it a great honor to introduce the International Property Rights Index and to support the work of Property Rights Alliance in their mission to nurture the public discourse on the essential role of property rights in economic development around the world.
Hernando de Soto