How Free is Your State?


The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has published results of a new study outlining state rankings using their “State Freedom Calculator”.  You can see the full study and rankings here. The states were ranked based several factors: economic and regulatory policies and “paternalism” – policies that affect your social freedoms.

For this study, the authors added policy variables (such as bans on trans fats and the audio recording of police, Massachusetts’s individual health-insurance mandate, and mandated family leave), improved existing measures (such as those for fiscal policies, workers’ compensation regulations, and asset-forfeiture rules), and developed specific policy prescriptions for each of the 50 states based on their data and a survey of state policy experts.

The approach to measuring freedom in the states is unique in three respects: (1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, to own and carry firearms, and to be free from unreasonable search 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 true cost of government to the citizen.

The top 10 states are:

  1. New Hampshire
  2. South Dakota
  3. Indiana
  4. Idaho
  5. Missouri
  6. Nevada
  7. Colorado
  8. Oregon
  9. Virginia
  10. North Dakota

The 10 worst states:

  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Alaska
  • Maryland
  • Ohio
  • Illinois
  • Washington

If you click on the interactive map, you can get a summary of each state and their stats breakdown. Where I live in Washington, we rank #40.  This is due to government spending, poor labor and health insurance laws, alcohol (spirits) taxes are the highest in the country (effectively $22.33 per gallon!), and gambling is restricted (you can’t even gamble online!). So where does your state stand?


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DaveEowyn Recent comment authors
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Dr. Eowyn

I’m surprised by New Hampshire’s and Alaska’s rankings. NH is no. 1 in freedom, whereas Alaska is ranked 40-something. NH truly is “Live Free or Die.”