The Mercatus Center has a new report that ranks “the American states on their public policies thataffect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres.”
Our approach to measuring freedom in the states is unique in three respects: (1) itincludes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rightsto educate their own children, to own and carry firearms, and to be free from unreasonablesearch and seizure; (2) it incorporates more than 150 distinct public policies;and (3) it is particularly careful to measure fiscal policies in a way that reflects the truecost of government to the citizen.
So which states are the winners and losers?
We find that the overall freest states in the country are New Hampshire and SouthDakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place, while New York is the leastfree by a considerable margin. On personal freedom alone, Oregon now comes first,with Vermont and Nevada not too far behind, and Maryland brings up the rear. Oneconomic freedom alone, South Dakota easily takes first, and New York is a distantlast. The most improved states since the last edition of our study are Oregon, Nevada,Maine, and Washington, while Wyoming, California, Arizona, and Massachusettshave fallen the furthest.
Perhaps of most interest to Ilya Somin, is that Americans are voting with their feet, and moving to states with more liberty.
Two of the most intriguing findings of our statistical analysisare that Americans are voting with their feet and moving to states with more economicand personal freedom and that economic freedom correlates with income growth.