The Release of the 2021 International Property Rights Index

Washington, D.C. – The Property Rights Alliance released the 2021 International Property Rights Index, the only global, comparative index that ranks the strength of property rights, both physical and intellectual, as well as the legal and political environments that contain them. The United States jumped seven spots from last year to rank 6th for 2021 IPRI, while continuing to have a notable lead on the IPR component. PRA partnered with 125 think tanks in 73 countries to emphasize that property rights are the building blocks for a just, prosperous, and free society.

The IPRI Global Launch will be on November 30th, 2021

As the pandemic has devastated families and economies for more than twenty months, property rights continue to serve as the tool to transform ideas into innovative solutions. The successes of a robust property rights ecosystem produced the first-of-its-kind mRNA vaccines and newly developed COVID-19 therapies. Strong legal and political frameworks of property rights preserve the intangible and tangible assets of inventors, incentivizes creators to produce goods better and safer than before while securing investors to finance creations without the guarantee of return. The campaign to relax patents via the TRIPS waiver to the World Trade Organization is one of the many misguided assaults that undermines a strong IP ecosystem.

According to the 2021 Hernando de Soto Fellow and author of IPRI, Dr. Sary Levy-Carciente, a robust IP framework include “knowledge sharing, engaging in technology, licensing arrangements, demand for better contracts, clearly defining IP rights, promoting a common ecosystem, and sharing efforts and rewards.” IP rights serve as the key to unlocking the hidden potentials of society during challenging times.

The three countries that achieved the highest property rights protections are Switzerland, Singapore, and New Zealand according to the 2021 International Property Rights Index.

Hernando de Soto, renowned economist and President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, highlighted that this report “reinforces the principle that property rights positively correlate to the overall quality of life and economic strength.” He continued, “I am privileged to present the International Property Rights Index and to work alongside the Property Rights Alliance in their commitment to fostering economic growth and democracy by the protection of intellectual and physical property rights.”

Property rights are human rights. Strong property rights frameworks preserve human dignity, innovation, and freedom while protecting against abuse of government power. The 129 countries included in the 2021-IPRI represent 93.91% of the world population and 97.73% of global GDP.

Τhe 129 countries included in 2020-IPRI have a population of 7.32 billion people representing 93.91% of the world population, showing that 85% of the population lives in 86 countries with an IPRI between 2.6 and 6.1. More than half of the sample population (52.3%) lives in 30 countries with a middle score of this index, [5.3 – 6.1].

Executive Director of the Property Rights Alliance and Editor of the Index, Lorenzo Montanari commented on the release, “During this pandemic time, now more than ever it is evident how innovation and intellectual property rights have played a crucial role in discovering vaccines and finding solutions to Covid-19. Property rights are not only one of the most important pillars of any free society but also human rights as stated in art.17 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2021 Index will serve as an important tool for policymakers and business communities to understand how the three main components of the property rights ecosystem (Legal and Political Environment, Physical Property Rights, and Intellectual Property Rights) interact to attract investment and nurture healthy institutions. As the Nobel Laureate Friedrich von Hayek stated: ‘The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom.’”


Key Findings:

The average score of the sample of 129 countries in the 2021 IPRI is 5.60 (Max. 8.15; Min. 2.65) where the LP was the weakest component with a score of 5.08, followed by the IPR component with a score of 5.24; PPR was the strongest component with a score of 6.48.

When the population is accounted for the 2021 IPRI average score of 5.603 is reduced to 5.596, a 77% decrease. Compared to 2020’s data (5.728), there was a 2.18% decrease. This drop suggests a need to double down on efforts to develop strong property rights ecosystems in densely populated countries.

Switzerland (8.15), Singapore (8.09), and New Zealand (8.08) achieved the highest property rights protections. Since 2017, the IPRI top countries are the same, but with a different lineup. Singapore leads the PPR component (8.6), while New Zealand is first for the LP component (8.8). The USA commands the IPR component (8.7). This score is particularly relevant since IP rights have taken the center stage given the trade war between China and the United States. China, like last year, still trails on IP rights (6.3).

Overall, the average score of the IPRI, including all its components continued on their downward trend for the third year in a row. The IPRI decreased by 2.2%. The IPR showed the biggest decrease by 5.4%, while the PPR slightly reduced by 0.3%. The LP regressed .88%. The decrease of IPRI and its components, unfortunately, shows that instead of embracing property rights in the face of unprecedented crisis, these rights were instead attacked as seen in government overreach shutting down private businesses and the relaxation of patents. Now more than ever, property rights are needed to ensure individual maintain their right to self-ownership and for talent, assets, and research to translate into innovative solutions. Property rights are human rights that protect individual liberty.


The IPRI in its 15th edition also includes five case studies from our partnering think tanks:

Catholic Teachings on Private Property: The Enduring Relevance of Late Scholastic Arguments. By Dr. Alejandro A. Chafuen, Acton Institute (USA)

Criminal Protection and Intellectual Property in Uruguay. By Cristián Correa Crego and Mathías Gonzalez Pérez, FREE Uruguay (Uruguay)

Taxation on Immovable Property in Italy. The Cost Behind Wealth, How Taxes Impact the Right of Property. By Prof. Marco Allena and Prof. Bruno Ferroni, Istituto Mercatus (Italy)

The Need to Reinforce Property Rights over Land in Spain. By Prof. Dr. Gregorio Izquierdo Llanes, Dr. María Luisa Recio Rapún, Adrián González Martín, Andrés Pires Franco, Instituto de Estudios Económicos (Spain)

The Status of Intellectual Property Rights in Brazil and Argentina. By Prof. Vladimir Fernandes Maciel, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (Brazil); Prof. Maria L. Vazquez, and Pablo Paz Zorrilla, Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina)


The Executive Summary can be found here.

The complete dataset with country profiles and a country comparison tool can be found here.