The Mercatus Center recently released a study (pdf) by William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens on “Freedom in the 50 States,” which measures economic and social liberty in all fifty states.
According to the authors, the “study improves on prior attempts to score economic freedom for American states in three primary ways: (1) it includes measures of social and personal freedoms such as peaceable citizens’ rights to educate their own children, own and carry firearms, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure; (2) it includes far more variables, even on economic policies alone, than prior studies, and there are no missing data on any variable; and (3) it uses new, more accurate measurements of key variables, particularly state fiscal policies.”
“We find that the freest states in the country are New Hampshire, Colorado, and South Dakota, which together achieve a virtual tie for first place. All three states feature low taxes and government spending and middling levels of regulation and paternalism. New York is the least free by a considerable margin, followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, and Maryland.”
On personal freedom alone, Alaska is the clear winner, followed by Maine, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Texas. Maryland, Illinois, and New York are at the rear. On economic freedom alone, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Colorado are the freest, while New York, Maine, and California are the least free.
“As for freedom in the different regions of the country, the Mountain and West North Central regions are the freest overall while the Middle Atlantic lags far behind on both economic and personal freedom. Regression analysis demonstrates that states enjoying more economic and personal freedom tend to attract substantially higher rates of internal net migration.”
This is one of the best studies I’ve encountered. I encourage you to review your own states’ profile in the study.
Of course, the Republican Liberty Caucus ranks legislators on its Liberty Index, but this comprehensive study by Profs. Ruger and Sorens will be most useful to grassroots activists interested in continuing to work toward our libertarian ideal.