The concept of economic freedom is not a novel one in economic theory. Since the time of Adam Smith, if not before, economists have believed that the freedom to choose and supply resources, compete in business, trade with others, and secure property rights are central ingredients of economic progress (North and Thomas, 1973). Adam Smith (1776-1937) explained how the invisible hand of the marketplace enhanced the wealth of nations. David Ricardo (1821-1912) advocated free trade as a means of producing economic growth. Milton Friedman said, "I believe that free societies have arisen and persisted only because economic freedom is so much more productive economically than other methods controlling economic activity" (Foreword in Gwartney et al., 1996).
Madan '02, Anisha, "The Relationship Between Economic Freedom and Soci-Economic Development" (2002). Honors Projects. Paper 37.