2016 Index of Economic Freedom


overall score67.5
world rank48
Rule of Law

Property Rights40.0

Freedom From Corruption38.0

Limited Government

Government Spending78.0

Fiscal Freedom81.7

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom81.3

Labor Freedom72.7

Monetary Freedom77.5

Open Markets

Trade Freedom75.4

Investment Freedom80.0

Financial Freedom50.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 2.8 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $24.1 billion
    • 0.5% growth
    • 0.0% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $8,609 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 13.2%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 7.1%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $550.8 million
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A number of structural and institutional shortcomings still plague the Jamaican economy and hold back prospects for more dynamic economic development. Continuing fiscal deficits have pushed public debt to about 140 percent of GDP, trapping Jamaica in a cycle of debt service and borrowing.

Economic Freedom Snapshot

  • 2016 Economic Freedom Score: 67.5 (down 0.2 point)
  • Economic Freedom Status: Moderately Free
  • Global Ranking: 48th
  • Regional Ranking: 8th in the South and Central America/Caribbean Region
  • Notable Successes: Open Markets
  • Concerns: Rule of Law, Management of Public Finance, and Regulatory Efficiency
  • Overall Score Change Since 2012: +2.4

The high burdens of government regulation and political favoritism are a drag on Jamaica’s overall competitiveness. A cumbersome bureaucracy dissuades potential entrepreneurs, and pervasive corruption remains unchecked by anti-corruption measures that are not enforced.



Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s People’s National Party, in office since 2012, must call elections no later than April 2017. Simpson-Miller has maintained market-friendly policies, but economic growth has stalled. High levels of crime contribute to economic uncertainty. Prospects are gradually improving thanks to lower oil prices and prudent monetary policy, which has slowed inflation. Foreign exchange is heavily dependent on remittances, tourism, and bauxite production. Services account for more than 60 percent of GDP. Official unemployment is high. In 2015, Jamaica began talks with financial institutions on a plan to pay off the debt it owes Venezuela for oil received through the PetroCaribe energy program.

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

Long-standing relationships between elected representatives and organized crime, through which some criminal gangs operate with impunity in exchange for their votes, are among the root causes of corruption and Jamaica’s high crime rate. About half of the land is registered, and many properties lack current titles. The inefficient legal system weakens the security of property rights and the rule of law.

Limited GovernmentView Methodology

Jamaica’s top individual and corporate income tax rates are 25 percent. Other taxes include a property transfer tax and a general consumption tax. The overall tax burden equals 24 percent of total domestic income. Government spending amounts to 27.1 percent of total domestic output. The deficit has been reduced to below 3 percent of GDP, but public debt remains larger than annual production.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

The business start-up process is straightforward, with no minimum capital required, but obtaining necessary licenses remains costly. Rigid employment regulations are not conducive to job growth. In 2015, after a mid-program review of its four-year extended fund facility for Jamaica, the IMF praised the government for continuing to phase out subsidies to money-losing state-owned enterprises such as Clarendon Alumina Partners.

Open MarketsView Methodology

Jamaica’s average tariff rate is 7.3 percent. Some imports require a license. Foreign and domestic investors are treated equally under the law. State-owned enterprises distort several sectors of the economy. The financial system continues to grow, and the private sector has access to a wide range of credit instruments. Three large commercial banks dominate the banking sector, which remains relatively sound.

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
2The Bahamas70.92.2
4Saint Lucia70-0.2
5Saint Vincent and the Grenadines68.80.8
6Uruguay 68.80.2
8Jamaica 67.5-0.2
10Costa Rica 67.40.2
12El Salvador 65.1-0.6
13Panama 64.80.7
14Trinidad and Tobago62.9-1.2
15Guatemala 61.81.4
16Paraguay 61.50.4
17Dominican Republic610.0
18Nicaragua 58.61.0
19Honduras 57.70.3
28Venezuela 33.7-0.6
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