New Delhi: India ranks very low at 111th position in terms of economic freedom, behind countries like China, Nepal and Bangladesh, a global study has claimed in a worldwide index of 144 nations.
The annual ranking, titled 'Economic Freedom of the World: 2012', is topped by Hong Kong, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland (8.24) and Australia in the top-five.
The index has been prepared by Canada-based public policy think-tank, Fraser Institute, in cooperation with independent institutes in 90 nations and territories, and claims to measure the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries support economic freedom.
India's ranking has fallen from 103rd last year, while Hong Kong has retained its top slot, the report said.
Canada is ranked sixth on the list, while others in the top-ten include Bahrain, Mauritius, Finland and Chile. The countries with lowest level of economic freedom are -- Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo and Angola.
India shares its 111th position with two other countries, Iran and Pakistan, while those ranked lower include Guyana, Syria and Nigeria.
India has scored an overall rating of 6.26 in the economic freedom index as against an average global scrore of 6.83.
In the economic freedom index, China is at 107th position with a score of 6.35, Bangladesh at 109th with a score of 6.34 and Nepal is at 110th position (6.33).
The report said that Hong Kong offers the highest level of economic freedom worldwide, with a score of 8.90 out of 10, followed by Singapore (8.69), New Zealand (8.36), Switzerland (8.24), Australia and Canada (each 7.97), Bahrain (7.94), Mauritius (7.90), Finland (7.88) and Chile (7.84).
"Governments around the world embraced heavy-handed regulation and extensive spending in response to the US and European debt crises, reducing economic freedom in the short term and prosperity over the long term," the report noted.
"But the slight increase in this year's worldwide economic freedom score is encouraging. Impressively, all five continents are represented in the global top 10," it added.
The report noted that on an average, the poorest 10 per cent of people in the freest nations are nearly twice as rich as the average population of the least free countries.
Interestingly, the US, which is considered a champion of economic freedom among large industrial nations, continues its protracted decline in the global rankings. This year, the US plunged to its lowest-ever ranking of 18th, after being ranked at as high as second position in 2002.
The decline is attributed to higher spending and borrowing on the part of the US government.
The rankings and scores of other major economies include -Japan (20th), Germany (31st), Korea (37th), France (47th), Italy (83rd), Mexico (91st), Russia (95th) and Brazil (105th).