This is a devastating statistic for those who believe that America's greater commitment to individualism translates into greater individual freedom. In reality, the social democracies of Northern Europe are the freest societies in the world.

The United Nation's Human Freedom Index compares the amount of freedom that citizens of different countries enjoy. It considers the right to travel, assemble, and speak; the absence of forced labor, torture and other extreme legal punishment (such as the death penalty); freedom of political opposition, the press and trade unions; an independent judiciary; gender equality; and the legal right to trial, counsel of choice, privacy, religion and sexual practice.

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