Ordinary people in Egypt are calling for greater economic freedom. In fact, “people power” has risen against government corruption and the lack of meaningful reform progress. The stagnant economy has long kept many of Egypt’s 80 million citizens deprived of economic opportunity. Particularly, the young in Egypt have been increasingly frustrated about their country’s outmoded economic system and discouraging reality.
As well-documented by The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, a data-driven policy analysis of various economies, Egypt has been fluctuating only within the status of “mostly unfree” over a decade. Egypt has implemented a series of reforms of business regulations that were only cosmetic. On paper, they reduced the number of days and procedures involved in starting a business. However, in practice, those reforms have failed to produce any tangible improvements for many young people under the age of 30, who have been more eager to pursue greater economic freedom.
Even worse, on the two indicators that are the most powerful predictors of success for developing economies—property rights and corruption—Egypt scores far below world averages. Both indicators have shown sharp declines in recent years.
The abiding lesson of the Index of Economic Freedom is that the most critical variable in economic success is freedom. Let’s hope that Egypt’s current struggles will lead to lasting progress that improves economic opportunities for the young—and everyone else.