Nations with greater levels of economic freedom also have higher literacy rates and test scores, lower infant mortality rates, longer life expectancy, greater access to clean water and sanitation, and greater environmental health, according to research discussed by a panel Monday at The Heritage Foundation.

Donald Boudreaux, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, condemned the “standard narrative” that claims “the main reason for government action is market failure.”

“That narrative is backwards,” Boudreaux said. “In my view . . . the overwhelmingly important reason why government grows is not because of market failure, it’s because of market success. The market succeeds so incredibly well, almost on a daily basis, and it does so so silently, that we in the West take it for granted.”

Boudreaux highlighted the unprecedented leaps in innovation that have occurred in the free market. “Our world is incredibly unusual . . . but it’s wonderful,” Boudreaux said.  “That wonder is the consequence of economic freedom.”

Heritage Researcher Assistant Donald Schneider noted a stable rate of upward mobility and highlighted the correlation between factors such as high school dropout rates and single motherhood with lack of mobility. Research Assistant Ryan Olson presented the findings of the Heritage study that links economic freedom and innovation with a more developed society.

“Not only does capitalism produce these . . . small innovations that make our world better, an important aspect of this improved world is we live in a cleaner world. Capitalism cleans our environment,” Boudreaux said.

Alluding to burdensome regulations and government involvement that have caused the U.S. to lose its status this year as economically free, Boudreaux warned that “the goose that is laying these golden eggs can be slaughtered. And I don’t know now how far off we are from slaughtering that goose.”

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.