| International Property Rights Index



Lorenzo Montanari

Article 17

1.                  Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

2.                  No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)


“The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom”

Friedrich von Hayek, Nobel Laureate


The 2021 International Property Rights Index, now in its fifteen edition, offers a unique perspective on the correlation between the societies and economies of 129 countries accounting for 98% of world GDP and 94% of the world’s population.

There are three main enduring questions behind the Index: What would the world be like without property rights? How would countries build and strengthen their property rights and improve their free-market economies without a fair and transparent legal and political environment? How would a company or a start-up defend its own trademarks and copyrights without a consolidated intellectual property rights system? The Index, during all these years, tried to answer these three main questions and in fact, it confirms that there is a direct and strong correlation between property rights and different dimensions of economic development. The Index includes correlations between the IPRI scores and other measures of social and economic well-being, no doubt useful for researchers and policymakers. It is important to highlight that this year the most robust IPRI ratings in each category were Corruption Perception Index, Global Biotech Innovation Index as well as Global Competitiveness Index.

The correlations affirm the indispensable role classical liberal thinkers ascribe to private property rights. They allow business owners, inventors, artists, and those outside the formal economy to have the true value of their assets realized, allowing them to act in their best interests – economies flourish, governance improves, and the environment benefits when property rights are clear, accessible, and enforced. During this pandemic time, now more than ever it is evident how innovation and intellectual property rights have played a crucial role in discovering vaccines and finding solutions to Covid-19. Property rights are not only one of the most important pillars of any free society but also human rights as stated in art.17 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This Index will serve as an important tool for policymakers and business communities to understand how the three main components of the property rights ecosystem (Legal and Political Environment, Physical Property Rights, and Intellectual Property Rights) interact to attract investment and nurture healthy institutions. As the Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman stated: “I think that nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual’s natural right to property and giving individuals a sense that they own something that they’re responsible for, that they have control over, and that they can dispose of.”


On behalf of the Property Rights Alliance, I would like to thank all of those who contributed to the development of the 2021 International Property Rights Index. My true appreciation goes to Dr. Sary Levy-Carciente (PhD), the 2021 Hernando de Soto Fellow and author of this year’s index. 

A special thanks to the authors of the 2021 IPRI case studies: 

Dr. Alejandro A. Chafuen: Catholic Teachings on Private Property: The Enduring Relevance of Late Scholastic Arguments. 

Cristián Correa Crego and Mathías Gonzalez Pérez: Criminal Protection and Intellectual Property In Uruguay.

Prof. Marco Allena and Prof. Bruno Ferroni: Taxation on Immovable Property in Italy. The Cost Behind Wealth, How Taxes impact the Right of Property.

Prof. Dr. Gregorio Izquierdo Llanes, Dr. María Luisa Recio Rapún, Adrián González Martín, and Andrés Pires Franco: The Need to Reinforce Property Rights Over Land in Spain.

Prof. Vladimir Fernandes Maciel: The Status of Intellectual Property Rights in Brazil.

Prof. Maria L. Vazquez and Pablo Paz Zorrilla: The Status of Intellectual Property Rights In Argentina.

I’m very grateful to my colleague Christopher Butler, ATR’s executive director and to Philip Thompson, IP and Trade Specialist for their support and suggestions to improve the Index every year. 

A special thanks to PRA Fellow Giorgina Agostini and to PRA senior associate Rowan Saydlowski for their great assistance and outstanding work on reviewing the IPRI and developing a communications strategy.

I am especially thankful for Hernando De Soto’s longstanding and tireless efforts and his intellectual support as well as our long conversations about how to expand and strategize property rights protection in developing countries. The International Property Rights Index is possible thanks to his inspiring work, and his support allows PRA to establish the eponymous fellowship responsible for this publication year after year.

Finally, a special recognition to Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform for making this Index possible thanks to his support and commitment in promoting innovation, defending property rights and intellectual property not only in the USA but all over the world.