There are almost 200 countries in our world, all of which have adopted different economic policies. What better laboratory could we use to gauge which economic policies are most effective in creating economic growth and prosperity than that?

To compare countries individually, I chose to look at GDP per capita. For the record, using median household income, which one might argue is more representative of the average individual's prosperity, produces the same results as GDP per capita. The second comparison was to look at a country's ranking on the index of economic freedom. What is the index of economic freedom, you ask? It's an index that ranks countries highly (close to #1) that have free trade, minimal and efficient government regulations, small government, low tax rates, strongly enforced property rights, freedom of investment and limited government control on the financial sector, and few labor regulations like minimum wages. In other words, those countries that rank highested on the index of economic freedom are those that adhere most strongly to neoliberalist economic principles (which stem from neoclassical and Austrian economics)

So, which countries around the world are the most prosperous, and which economic discipline did they adopt? I chose to break it down by continent to better account for regional economic differences.

South America - highest GDP per capita? Chile. After implementing major free market economic reforms a couple of decades ago, Chile surged to the most prosperous nation in South America with the fastest economic growth rate, leaving other countries that were originally more prosperous than it in the dust. Today, Chile ranks #7th out of 180 countries in the world on the index of economic freedom, which is even better than the United States.

Asia - highest GDP per capita? Ignoring Qatar since it's an oil baron state, Singapore and Hong Kong have the highest. Despite both countries being poverty stricken as early as the 1950's and natural resource barren with the odds seemingly stacked against them, both today have higher GDP per capita than the US after adopting extremely free market oriented economic principles a few decades ago. Today, they rank #1 and #2 on the index of economic freedom as the most economically free countries in the world.

Europe - highest GDP per capita? Luxembourg, which ranks #13 on the economic freedom index, is at the top of the list. Norway takes second place as a relatively economically unfree country, but like Qatar, its oil revenues significantly inflate its GDP per capita figures. #3 highest GDP on the list is Switzerland, which ranks as one of the freest economies in the world at #5 on the index of economic freedom for having adopted some of the most neoliberal economic policies.

Africa - highest GDP per capita? Mauritius and Botswana top the list. Once again, we find that these countries are ranked #1 and #2 as the most economically free nations in Africa. Mauritius is notable however for being ranked #8th in economic freedom worldwide, even higher than the US, and a blistering growth rate has followed. Using average economic growth rates for the last decade, Mauritius, a small African island nation, is on track to topping the US in GDP per capita in just 50 years at current blistering growth rates.

North America - highest GDP per capita? United States, for now. The US has gradually become less economically free year by year, and it's inched down to #10th on the index of economic freedom. Canada is now ranked better than the US at #6th, and it's showing. Since Canada has become more economically free in the last decade, its average GDP growth rates have surpassed the US.

There you have it. On every continent in the world, the economies of countries that have implemented free market, neoliberalist economic principles reign king, with these countries experiencing the fastest growth rates and the highest standards of living worldwide. Every nation that has adopted these principles has experienced unpredecented economic growth in the long run. For those that would argue that free market based economic policies not the answer to economic growth, I challenge them to simply name a single country where these policies were implemented and growth did not surge. Meanwhile, we have nearly an entire world filled with economically oppressed countries that continue to wallow in poverty or stagnated growth. The best path going forward for the US and the world is clear. The question is, will we choose to follow it?