NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Which American States Are the Most Free?

December 3, 2014

Which American states are the most free? Texas, South Dakota and North Dakota, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute on economic freedom. In fourth place was Virginia, followed by New Hampshire, Louisiana and Nebraska in fifth place, Tennessee in the ninth spot and Indiana, Georgia and Utah tied for tenth.

The least free state was Maine, with Vermont and Mississippi not far behind.

To calculate freedom, researchers Dean Stansel, Jose Torra and Fred McMahon analyzed a number of different components, including the size of government, takings and discriminatory taxation, regulation, property rights and the state's legal system.

What does economic freedom translate into? Higher incomes for state residents. As Stansel wrote in the Washington Examiner, Texas, South Dakota and North Dakota had average incomes 20 percent higher than Maine, Vermont and Mississippi. Similarly, the top 10 most free states saw a 3.5 percent growth in employment and 8 percent economic growth, while the 10 least free states saw hardly any employment growth and only 2 percent economic growth.

Source: Dean Stansel, Jose Torra and Fred McMahon, "Economic Freedom of North America 2014," Fraser Institute, December 2, 2014. 


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