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For those readers whose disciplinary expertise lies beyond democracy studies, the data generated by Freedom House consistently rates among the best available.

Among their recent maps and graphics available here my attention was drawn to the 2016 representation of Freedom and Prosperity in Asia pictured below.

FIW2016_graphics_Freedom_Prosperity_Asia_BubbleGraph_notitle

To quickly address any visibility concerns if the graphic/text is too fuzzy and or small, the higher a country places on the graphic the wealthier it is, and the further to the right the country is the greater the political rights and civil liberties enjoyed by its citizens.

I will let the graphic data speak for itself, other than to highlight;

a/ the nation states of Southeast Asia clustering at in yellow and blue the lower centre/left, suggesting that Southeast Asia hasn’t been a happy place for freedom of speech and economic productivity for quite a while, and

b/ the classic problem that these figures project. There is sufficient evidence in the graphic (evidenced by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) to suggest a positive correlation between wealth and freedom (in other words, that increased wealth accompanies increased freedom). The great dilemma is whether increased freedom > increased wealth, or whether increased wealth > increased freedom.

Sadly there is unlikely to be a definitive answer in the literature, and although far smarter scholars than myself may have some highly credible arguments finding a neat graphic clarifying that relationship is beyond my abilities at this point. I would be delighted if a reader could point me to any relevant graphics.

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