In 2007 the International Property Rights Index was established as a system to determine the level of property rights (legal and political, intellectual, and physical) available to countries and the individuals within. Property rights give citizens of countries the right to trade, to do business, to own property, to be protected by the legal system of a country, and to claim their own intellectual property over ideas, knowledge and patents.
The purpose of the Property Rights Index is to gauge and rank countries on their ability to protect people’s property rights. The rankings are indicated in a rating out of 10, and there are four categories: Overall ranking, Legal, Physical and Intellectual.
In 2012, out of 130 countries on the index, the leaders on the International Property Rights Index were Finland (8.6), Sweden (8.5), and Norway (8.3). Singapore (8.3), Switzerland (8.3), Denmark (8.2), Luxembourg (8.2) and New Zealand (8.2) followed closely, still with very high rankings. The United Kingdom (7.9) was 11th out of 130 countries and the United States (7.5) was 18th. South Africa (6.6) was 31st on the Property Rights Index, with individual scores of 5.6 for legal rights, 6.9 for property rights and 7.4 for intellectual rights.
The 130 countries indicated in the index represent 97% of the global GDP, however, the cultural, political and economic foundations of each of the countries differ greatly, and minor idiosyncrasies that would otherwise affect the rankings were not considered on the Index. All the data used to generate the International Property Rights Index was gathered from third-parties such as the World Bank, World Economic Forum and trade groups.