States Ranked on Economic, Personal Freedom in New Mercatus Center Study

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This week, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University released "Freedom in the 50 States," including full state rankings on economic and personal freedom.

North Dakota comes out on top in this year’s index as the most free state in the country, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma.

State policies that limit economic and individual choices can have a profound impact on everyday citizens. With this in mind, "Freedom in the 50 States"—published this week by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University—provides the most comprehensive analysis available ranking states based on their economic and personal freedom.

North Dakota comes out on top in this year’s index as the most free state in the country, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma.

New York is ranked as the state with the least liberty, due in large part to its high taxes, government debt, and poor economic regulation. California (49) doesn’t fare much better, and New Jersey (48), Hawaii (47), and Rhode Island (46) round out the bottom five.

“State and local governments ought to respect basic rights and liberties, such as the right to practice an honest trade or the right to make lifetime partnership contracts, whether or not respecting these rights ‘maximizes utility,’” the study says. “This index measures the extent to which states respect or disrespect these basic rights and liberties.”

The study delves into topics as diverse as tax policy, occupational licensing, liquor laws, and state-to-state migration. With the understanding that individuals value some freedoms more than others, the Freedom in the 50 States website also allows users to customize their rankings.

For more, see this op-ed in USA Today by the authors.

Overall Freedom Index Rankings:
1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
3. Tennessee
4. New Hampshire
5. Oklahoma
6. Idaho
7. Missouri
8. Virginia
9. Georgia
10. Utah
11. Arizona
12. Montana
13. Alaska
14. Texas
15. South Carolina
16. Indiana
17. Delaware
18. Alabama
19. Colorado
20. Nevada
21. New Mexico
22. Nebraska
23. Florida
24. North Carolina
25. Iowa
26. Kansas
27. Kentucky
28. Oregon
29. Washington
30. Massachusetts
31. Pennsylvania
32. Arkansas
33. Ohio
34. Minnesota
35. Michigan
36. Wyoming
37. Louisiana
38. Wisconsin
39. Maine
40. Connecticut
41. Mississippi
42. West Virginia
43. Vermont
44. Maryland
45. Illinois
46. Rhode Island
47. Hawaii
48. New Jersey
49. California
50. New York

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Kyle Precourt
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