Sources and Procedures

Sources and Procedures2017-08-10T13:29:53+00:00

Historical Index of Economic Liberty

Four dimensions of economic freedom are distinguished: legal structure and security of property rights, value of money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.

For each dimension of economic freedom an index, consistent over space and time, is computed on the basis of different indicators.

When the indicator’s value is inversely related to the degree of economic freedom, it has been transformed into index form using the expression

Iij = 10 (VMAXVij) / (VMAXVMIN)

Where Vij represents the value of country i indicator at year j and VMAX and VMIN, its maximum and minimum values

Alternatively, when the value of the indicator is directly related to the value of economic freedom, it is the following expression the one used,


Así, el índice de libertad económica resultante varía siempre entre 0 (mínimo) y 10 (máximo).

Thus, in either case the resulting index of economic freedom ranges between 0 (minimum) and 10 (maximum).

The period considered is that of the spread of modern capitalism, namely, the epoch covering from the emergence of free trade and laissez faire in the mid-nineteenth century to the eve of the current recession.

Legal Structure and Security of Property Rights

A) Constraint on the executive (EXCONST)

This measure focuses on the operational independence of chief executive. Thus, it relates to “the extent of institutionalized constraints on the decision-making powers of chief executives” and aims at capturing “the checks and balances between the various parts of the decision-making process” (Marshall et al. 2013: 24). Its value ranges between 1 and 7. A value of 1 would correspond a situation in which “there are no regular limitations on the executive’s actions” while a value of 7 is that of a situation in which “accountability groups have effective authority equal to or greater than the executive in most activity” (Marshall et al. 2013: 24-25). Its source is Marshall (2013).

B) Contract-Intensive Money (CIM)

The “contract intensive money” (CIM) measures the percentage of deposits in money supply:

CIM = (M2C) / M2,

In which C represents currency outside banks and M2 the money supply including all (current and term) deposits.

In the construction of the transformed index, the range within which CIM fluctuates, 1 and 0, has provided the upper and lower bounds. A shortcoming of CIM estimates for countries in early stages of economic development derives from the use by the public of alternative options to deposits (i.e., bills of exchange) that enlarged in practice money supply, with the consequence of a downward bias in CIM. As a crude correction, I have assumed a ‘floor’ of 0.2 for CIM.

The sources used for each country are,


Vamplew (1987), up to 1983; IMF, 1984-2001; Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), 2002 onwards

Austria (Austria-Hungary up to 1913)

Jobst and Scheiber (2014), currency outside banks; Demand and time and savings deposits, Komlos (1987), 1867-1913; Mitchell (2008), 1925-37; IMF, since 1950.


Up to 1939, Mitchell (2008), banknote in circulation and time and savings deposits; Banks (2010), demand deposits except for 1870-74 in which the level for 1875 is projected backwards with banknotes in circulation; Mitchell (2008), 1950-68; IMF, since 1969.


Mitchell (2008), 1856-1870; McInnis (2001), 1871-1913; Canadian Historical Statistics, 1913-39; IMF, 1950-2000; Statistics Canada, 2001 onwards.


Mitchell (2008), 1850-1939; IMF, since 1950.


Mitchell (2008), 1862-1939; IMF since 1950.


Mitchell (2008), currency outside banks and time and savings deposits, 1850-1939; Saint-Marc (1983), demand deposits, 1850-1939; IMF from 1950 onwards.


Mitchell (2008), 1850-1913; Ritschl (2002), 1925-1939; IMF since 1950.


Lazaretou (2014), 1850-1939; IMF, since 1953. Estimates for 1950-52 were computed by projecting the CIM level for 1953 with an alternative CIM derived with M1 from Mitchell (2008).


Mitchell (2008), 1913, 1925-32; Gerlach and Stuart (2014), since 1933.


de Bonis et al. (2012).


Currency outside banks, Mitchell (2008), 1913, 1925-39, 1950-52; Deposits, Patrick (1967), 1888-1910; Yamamura (1972), 1911-1926. Estimates for 1873-87, 1927-39, and 1950-52 were computed with Mitchell (2008) re-scaled to match the levels for 1888, 1926, and 1953, respectively. IMF, since 1953.


1850-1912, Data on demand deposits is lacking. The persistence of the prolongatie market explains the slow development of deposits in Dutch commercial banking (Jonker, 1997: 101-102) and, perhaps, why there is no record of demand deposits. In fact, the public used money put on prolongatie as a form of interest-bearing demand deposits backed by securities, and thus it provides a substitute for demand deposits (I owe this remark to Joost Jonker). As a crude alternative, M1 (that is, currency outside banks and demand deposits) was estimated over 1850-1912 by projecting its level in 1913 backwards with data on currency outside banks from Mitchell (2008). Time and savings deposits also come from Mitchell (2008). Mitchell (2008), 1925-39; IMF since 1950.

New Zealand

Currency outside banks, Mitchell (2008), 1870-1939; IMF, 1950-88; Statistics New Zealand, 1989-2004; Reserve Bank of New Zealand, from 2005 onwards. Demand deposits, 1850-1913, Statistics New Zealand; Time and savings deposits, Mitchell (2008); All deposits, Statistics New Zealand, 1925-64; IMF, 1965-2006; Reserve Bank of New Zealand, 2007.


Klovland (2004) and Eitrheim et al. (2007).


Reis (1990), 1854-1912; Reis (2001), 1850-53, 1913-39; Pinheiro (1997), 1950-52; IMF, since 1953.


1850-55, Tortella (1982), currency in circulation, and Tedde (1999), notes in circulation. 1856-73, Banco de España (1970), currency outside banks; 1850-73, Martín-Aceña and Pons (2005), demand deposits; Time and savings deposits: (Tortella 1985) deposits estimates less sight deposits in private banks, from Martín-Aceña and Pons (2005), provide an estimate of time deposits, to which I added non-banking savings deposits from Titos (1999). Money supply and its components: Tortella (1974), 1874-99; Martín-Aceña (1985), 1900-35; Martín-Aceña and Pons (2005), 1950-62; IMF, since 1963.


Mitchell (2008), 1850-70; Edvisson (2011), 1871-1980; Statistics Sweden, since 1981.


Historical Statistics of Switzerland, 1851-1905, In the absence of data on time and savings deposits, it was assumed that it moved along demand deposits, so the level of total deposits in 1906 was backwards projected with the data on demand deposits; Mitchell (2008), 1906-39; IMF, 1950 onwards.

United Kingdom

Currency outside banks, 1850-70. Two alternative estimates were derived and its average taken. On the one hand, Mitchell (1988), coin level for 1870 was backwards projected with Huffman and Lothian (1980) figures and added up to Mitchell (2008) banknotes in circulation. On the other, Hills et al. (2010) currency outside banks in 1870 was projected backwards with Huffman and Lothian (1980) total figures for coin and notes outside banks. 1871-1981, the average of estimates by Hills et al. (2010) and by Capie and Webber (1985) was used. From 1982 onwards, Hills et al. (2010) was employed. All deposits, 1850-70: Collins (1983), demand deposits (derived from net public liabilities of commercial banks, which include notes and deposits); and Mitchell (1988, 2008), savings deposits. All deposits: 1871-1981, Capie and Webber (1985); 1982-2007, Hills et al. (2010). Pre-1982 figures were adjusted to match the level of 1982 derived from data in Hills et al. (2010).

United States

1850-66, Anderson (2003), currency outside banks derived by projecting its level in 1867 backwards with the series of all notes and coin; figures for all deposits obtained by projecting backwards Anderson (2003) level for 1867 with the series of deposits provided by Mitchell (2008); Anderson (2003), 1867-1939; IMF, since 1950.

Value of Money

A) Inflation Rate

The consumer price index (CPI) has been used as the measure of inflation for this component. When the CPI was unavailable, the implicit GDP deflator was used.

B) Standard Inflation Variability during the last five years

The GDP deflator was used as the measure of inflation for this component. When unavailable, the CPI was used.

C) Money Growth Differential

Derived as the average annual growth of the money supply in the last five years minus the average annual growth of real GDP in the last ten years. M1 figures were used to measure the growth rate of the money supply.

The sources used are,


CPI, Mitchell (2008), 1861-70; Maddison (1991), 1870-1939; IMF, 1950-2007.

GDP deflator derived from current GDP, Vamplew (1987), and real GDP in Maddison (2010), up to 1960; and Australian System of National Accounts, 1960 onwards.

Real GDP, Maddison (2010).


CPI, Jobst and Scheiber (2014), 1863-1913; Maddison (1991), 1913-39; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, derived from nominal GDP, Mitchell (2008), 1925-37, and IMF, 1950 onwards, and real GDP, Maddison (2010).

Real GDP, Schulze (1997), up to 1913; Maddison (2010), since 1913.


CPI, Maddison (1991), 1850-1939; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, 1850-1913, Horlings (1997); 1925-39, average of Buyst (1997), income and expenditure, and Horlings (1997), output deflators; IMF, 1950 onwards

Real GDP, 1850-1913, Horlings (1997); 1925-39, average of Buyst (1997), income and expenditure, and Horlings (1997), output; Maddison (2010), thereafter.


CPI, Maddison (1991), 1870-1939; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, Urquhart (1993), 1870-1939; IMF, since 1950.

Real GDP, Urquhart (1993), 1870-1939; Maddison (2010) thereafter.


CPI, Mitchell (2008), 1850-70; Maddison (1991), 1870-1939; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, Derived from current GDP, Hansen (1974), 1850-1939 and IMF, 1950 onwards, and real GDP from Maddison (2010).

Real GDP, Maddison (2010)


CPI, Heikkinen (1997), 1850-1913; Hjerppe (1996), 1913-39; IMF, 1950 onwards.

GDP deflator, derived from current GDP Hjerppe (1996), 1860-1974, and IMF, 1975 onwards, and real GDP, Maddison (2010).

Real GDP, Maddison (2010)


CPI, Lévy-Leboyer and Bourguignon (1985), 1850-1913; Maddison (1991), 1913-50; IMF, 1950 onwards.

GDP deflator, Toutain (1997), 1850-1962; IMF, 1963 onwards.

Real GDP, Toutain (1997) and Maddison (2010).


CPI, Mitchell (2008), 1850-70; Maddison (1991), 1870-1939; IMF, 1950-93; DeStatis, 1993 onwards.

GDP deflator, Ritschl and Spoerer (1997), 1901-39; CPDS, 1960 onwards

Real GDP Burhop and Wolff (2005), 1851-1913; Ritschl and Spoerer (1997), 1913-50


CPI, Mitchell (2008), 1914-1939; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, Kostelenos et al. (2007), 1850-1937; UN (1950), 1937-39; IMF, since 1950.

Real GDP  Kostelenos et al. (2007), 1850-1939; IMF, 1950 onwards.


CPI, Mitchell (2008), 1925-39; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, IMF, since 1950.

Real GDP, Mitchell (1988), 1926-38; IMF, since 1950.



GDP deflator and Real GDP, Baffigi (2013)


CPI, Maddison (1991), 1879-1939; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator, derived from nominal GDP, Ohkawa and Shinohara (1979), 1885-1951, and IMF, 1951-55, and real GDP (Maddison 2010), 1885-1955; Historical Statistics Japan, 1955 onwards.

Real GDP, Maddison (2010).


CPI, Maddison (1991), 1870-1939; IMF, 1950 onwards

GDP deflator, Smits et al. (2000), 1850-1913; den Bakker et al. (1990), 1925-39; IMF, 1950-2001; Statistics Netherlands, 2002 onwards.

New Zealand

CPI, Statistics New Zealand, 1857-2004; IMF, 2004 onwards.

GDP deflator, Statistics New Zealand, 1860-2000; IMF, 2001 onwards.

Real GDP, Statistics New Zealand, 1860-2004; Maddison (2010), thereafter.


CPI, GDP deflator, and real GDP, Grytten (2004a, updated).


CPI, Valério (2001), 1850-1939; IMF, since 1950.

GDP deflator and real GDP, Lains (2003), 1850-1910; Batista et al. (1997), 1910-53; Pinheiro (1997), 1953 onwards.


CPI, Maluquer de Motes (2005, 2006), 1850-2001; INE,, since 2001

GDP deflator and real GDP, Prados de la Escosura (2003, updated)


CPI, Edvinsson and Söderberg (2007), 1850-2006; Statistics_Sweden, 2007

GDP deflator and real GDP, Schön and Krantz (2012)


CPI, Historical Statistics Switzerland, 1850-2005; IMF, 2006-07.

GDP deflator, Historical Statistics Switzerland, 1851-2001; IMF, since 2001.

Real GDP, Historical Statistics Switzerland.

United Kingdom

CPI, GDP deflator, and Real GDP, Hills et al. (2010)

United States

CPI, GDP deflator, and real GDP, Officer and Williamson (2013)

Freedom to Trade Internationally

A ) Customs revenues as a percentage of the current value of imports

Mitchell (2008) and World Bank (2013), for the post-1970 era, were complemented, when necessary, with national sources.


Vamplew (1987), 1850-1900; Mitchell (2008), 1900-


Trade, crude computations from data on the share of Imperial Austria in Austria-Hungary trade derived from Eddie (1980) for 1880-1913 and extended back to 1850. Eddie (1980) provides Imperial Austria’s share in Austria-Hungary trade and, therefore, trade by Imperial Austria can be derived, which includes re-exports to and from Hungary. Eddie presents shares of Austria in Hungary’s trade, so Austrian trade with the rest of the World can easily be computed. A difficulty appears as regards the share of Austrian trade with Hungary that represents domestic exports and retained or net imports and not just re-exports. Given the lack of information, I decided to consider re-exports negligible and to attribute all the trade between Imperial Austria and Hungary to domestic exports and retained imports. The computed share of Austria in Austria-Hungary trade for 1880 was applied to trade figures for Dual Monarchy in earlier years in order to derive Austrian exports and imports back to 1850


Customs revenues, Mitchell (2008); imports, Lévy-Leboyer (1977), 1850-1913.


Smits et al. (2000), 1850-1913; 1925-39, customs revenues, Mitchell 2008); imports, den Bakker et al. (1990).

New Zealand

Customs revenues, Mitchell (2008); imports, Statistics New Zealand.


Lains (1995) and Valério (2001).


Tena (2005).

 B) Trade restrictions from 1950 onwards

For the post-1950 period, Quinn and Todoya (2008) provide institutional settings (de jure) measures of liberalization of financial current account restrictions that capture trade restrictions. In particular, “how compliant a government is with its obligations under the IMF’s Article VIII to free from government restriction the proceeds from international trade of goods and services” (Quinn and Toyoda 2008: 1409). The index contemplates commodity and services trade and ranges from 0 to 8 (full compliance) that the authors transformed into a 0-100 scale.

 C) Difference between official exchange rate and black-market rate

The Black Market Premium (BMP) is the difference between the official and the parallel market exchange rate. Data for all countries come from Reinhart and Rogoff (2003, 2004) database since 1946 except for Spain, for which a weighted measure from Prados de la Escosura et al. (2012) has been used.

 D) Controles del mercado internacional de capital

For the pre-1939 period I have built an index of capital mobility that assigns values over a 0-10 range to each country, depending on its currency convertibility. The values assigned in this exploratory exercise are, unfortunately, largely discretional.

Thus, before 1914, a value of 10 has been assigned to those countries in the Gold Standard. For countries that did not belong to the Gold Standard, with convertible currencies or bimetallic standards, as well as for those shadowing the Gold Standard, an initial value of 8 has been set. However, each country’s value deviates from the initial level on the basis of its exchange rate volatility (ERV) against the Sterling (Table 1).

In the Interwar years (defined here as the period 1925-39), before the reintroduction of the Gold Standard as a Gold Exchange Standard, a value of 5 was attributed to the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Greece, and Italy during 1925-26; France, Ireland, Norway, and Portugal (1925-28); Japan (1925-29), and Spain (1925-30). Countries in the Gold Exchange Standard were assigned a value of 7, lower than prior to 1914, as the international capital market was subjected to major dislocations and capital flows tapered in the 1920s and, especially, during the Depression (Eichengreen, 1992; Obstfeld and Taylor, 2004: 132-45).

 Table 1

Assigned Capital Mobility Values to Degrees of Exchange Rate Volatility before 1914


Exchange Rate Volatility Capital Mobility Value
< 0.05 8
<0.1 >0.05 7
<0.2 >0.1 6
<0.4 >0.3 4

Then, after the convertibility into gold was suspended in the UK (1931), a value of 5 has been assigned to those countries whose currency was pegged to the Sterling. Thus, it applied Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and Greece (after 1936). In the case of France, after the Gold Standard was abandoned (1936), the value attributed to the Franc was also 5 and this also extended to those currencies in the ‘gold bloc’ (Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy). In those cases in which exchange control was introduced but the currency was still pegged to the Sterling or French Franc, the value was reduced to 3. These were the cases of Austria, Belgium (1935), Denmark, and Finland (after 1934), Japan, and New Zealand (1939). When in addition to exchange controls there were multiple exchange rates, the attributed value was 1 (Germany since 1932, Austria since 1938, Italy since 1937), and, in the case of Spain, a value of 0 was assigned since mid-1936, when its civil war started.

Data come from Flandreau and Zumer (2004) (who described this measure as an index of vulnerability). I replicated the index for missing dates and countries on the basis of the information in Bordo and Schwartz (1996), Eichengreen (1992), Eichengreen and Flandreau (1996), ‘League of Nations (1925-1939), and Reinhart and Rogoff (2003, 2004, 2010).

For the post-1950 period, Quinn and Todoya (2008) provide institutional settings (de jure) measures of liberalization of capital account controls up to 2004 that, lacking data, I have assumed remained unaltered up to 2007. This indicator ranges from 0 to 4 (full openness) that the authors transformed into a 0-100 scale

Regulation of Credit and Labour

A) Credit market regulation:

1) Interest rate controls

The real short-term interest rate is the nominal short-term interest rate less inflation. I transformed the original values of the real interest rate into index form using upper and lower bounds of 20 and -20 per cent. It is worth noting that in the computation of real interest rates, negative rates of inflation have previously been made equal to zero since the real interest rates that would result under negative inflation would exaggerate the measure of freedom of credit regulation. This decision is consistent with the view that price stability is what guarantees economic freedom.

Data on short-run interest rates come from Homer and Sylla (2005) and IMF, from 1950 onwards, unless expressed explicitly in each country sources. Inflation rates from the sources used for Sound Money.

The sources used are,


Vamplew (1987), 1850-1936; Homer and Sylla (2005), 1937-68; IMF, since 1969.


Jobst and Scheiber (2014), 1863-1913; Morys (private communication), 1925-39; IMF, since 1950.


Homer and Sylla (2005), 1850-1939; IMF, since 1950.


1871-1939, McInnis (2001); Homer and Sylla (2005), 1950-89; IMF, 1990 onwards


Abildgren (2005), 1875-2003; IMF, since 2004.


Bank of Finland, 1867-1939; IMF, since 1950.


Lévy-Leboyer and Bourguignon (1985), 1850-62; Homer and Sylla (2005), 1863-1939; IMF, since 1950.


Homer and Sylla (2005), 1850-1913, 1925-1939; IMF, since 1950.


Lazaretou (2014), 1850-1939; IMF, since 1950.


Hills et al. (2010), Bank of England rated accepted in the absence of information about Ireland, 1925-32; Gerlach and Stuart (2014), since 1933.


De Bonis et al. (2012).


Homer and Sylla (2005), 1883-1939; Historical Statistics Japan, 1950-2000; IMF, since 2001.


Homer and Sylla (2005), 1850-1954; IMF, since 1955.

New Zealand

Homer and Sylla (2005), 1934-39; Statistics New Zealand, 1950-2003; IMF, since 2004. The level for 1934 was backwards projected to 1859 with Australia’s series.


Eitrheim et al. (2007).


Reis (2007), 1863-87; Flandreau and Zumer (2004), 1888-90; Valério (2001) and Pinheiro (1997), 1891-98; IMF, since 1999.


1850-1873, Tortella (1973), Banco de Barcelona; 1874-2000, Martín-Aceña and Pons (2005); Banco de España, since 2001.


Homer and Sylla (2005), 1850-55; Waldeström (2007), since 1856.


Swiss National Bank, Lombard rates up to 1906.

United Kingdom

Hills et al. (2010).

United States

Officer (2013).

2) Budget Balance (% GDP)

The data come from Mauro, P., R. Romeu, A. Binder, and A. Zaman (2013), except for Austria (Austria-Hungary), 1850-1913, Jobst and Scheiber (2014); Greece, 1850-1939, Lazaretou (2014); Portugal,  Marinheiro (2006), and Spain, Comín (2005 and private communication).

B) Labour market regulation

The OECD (2008) aggregate index of employment protection legislation for 1985-2008 (OECD 2008) has been extended back to 1950 with estimates in Crafts (2006) and Allard (2004). Since Crafts’ indices are provided at period averages (1960-64, 1965-72, 1973-79, 1980-87), these average values have been assigned to each year in each period. Levels for 1960 have been projected backwards to 1950 with Allard’s index.

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