2015 Index of Economic Freedom


overall score67.7
world rank48
Rule of Law

Property Rights40.0

Freedom From Corruption38.0

Limited Government

Government Spending73.2

Fiscal Freedom81.5

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom85.9

Labor Freedom76.5

Monetary Freedom71.4

Open Markets

Trade Freedom75.0

Investment Freedom85.0

Financial Freedom50.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 2.8 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $25.2 billion
    • 0.5% growth
    • -0.7% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $9,048 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 15.0%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 9.4%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $567.1 million
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Jamaica’s economic freedom score is 67.7, making its economy the 48th freest in the 2015 Index. Its score has increased by 1.0 point since last year, reflecting gains in five of the 10 economic freedoms, including freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, and the management of government spending, that outweigh a decline in monetary freedom. Jamaica ranks 9th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region.

Action to correct terms of trade issues and poor fiscal policy has helped Jamaica to improve its overall economic freedom score over the past five years. Since 2011, economic freedom on the island has improved by 2.0 points, led by advances in five of the 10 economic freedoms including freedom from corruption, the management of government spending, and fiscal freedom. In the 2015 Index, Jamaica has achieved its highest economic freedom score ever.

However, the foundations of economic freedom in Jamaica are still weak. Corruption is common, and the rule of law is weakly enforced. Violence related to the drug trade has been prevalent. Jamaica scores only about average on trade and financial freedom, a serious problem for an island nation dependent on imports for basic goods and fuel.



Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s People’s National Party was re-elected in December 2011 with a large parliamentary majority. Simpson-Miller has maintained market-friendly policies, but high interest rates and government debt burden the economy. A $1.27 billion standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund signed in 2010 required a commitment to major fiscal reforms that have been slow to materialize. An extended IMF agreement was approved in 2013. Most foreign exchange comes from remittances, tourism, and bauxite production, all of which declined sharply during the 2009 recession and have not recovered. Unemployment remains high, particularly in the formal sector. Services account for more than 60 percent of GDP. Jamaica is a member of the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe oil alliance.

Rule of LawView Methodology

Property Rights 40.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Freedom From Corruption 38.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Jamaicans see corruption as a root cause of their high crime rate. The government has yet to send a strong signal against corruption. In May 2014, a license to a Hong Kong–based company for a major power project was revoked amid allegations of improper handling of the tender process. The inefficient legal system weakens property rights and the rule of law.

Limited GovernmentView Methodology

Jamaica’s top individual income tax rate is 25 percent, and its corporate tax rate is down to 25 percent from 33.3 percent. Other taxes include a property transfer tax and a general consumption tax. Overall tax revenue equals 24.4 percent of domestic income. Government expenditures equal 29.9 percent of domestic production, and public debt is equivalent to 139 percent of gross domestic product.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

With no minimum capital required, the business start-up process takes only two procedures. However, completing licensing requirements continues to be time-consuming, taking over four months on average. Inefficiencies in the labor market continue to cause chronically high unemployment and underemployment. Most prices are set by the market, but the government regulates the prices of several goods and services.

Open MarketsView Methodology

Jamaica’s average tariff rate is 7.5 percent. Tariffs are an important source of government revenue. Some imports require a license. The government does not automatically screen foreign investment. The banking sector is diversified, providing a wide range of financial services. Incorporating new provisions related to the evolving financial system, the Banking Services Act was approved in June 2014.

Country's Score Over Time

Bar Graph of Jamaica  Economic Freedom Scores Over a Time Period

Country Comparisons

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Regional Ranking

rank country overall change
3Saint Lucia70.2-0.5
4The Bahamas68.7-1.1
5Uruguay 68.6-0.7
6Saint Vincent and the Grenadines681.0
9Jamaica 67.71.0
10Costa Rica 67.20.3
12El Salvador 65.7-0.5
13Trinidad and Tobago64.11.4
14Panama 64.10.7
15Paraguay 61.1-0.9
16Dominican Republic61-0.3
17Guatemala 60.4-0.8
18Nicaragua 57.6-0.8
19Honduras 57.40.3
28Venezuela 34.3-2.0
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