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Freedom States 2011

Freedom States 2011

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Published by: cbowler5070 on Jun 22, 2011
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JUNE 2011
William P. Ruger & Jason Sorens
William P. Ruger
William Ruger 
is an assistant professor in the Department of PoliticalScience at Texas State University. Ruger earned his PhD in politicsfrom Brandeis University and an AB from the College of William and Mary.
Jason Sorens
Jason Sorens
is an assistant professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He received his doctorate inpolitical science in 2003 from Yale University, and his research focuses onsecessionism, ethnic politics, and comparative federalism. His work has alsoappeared in
 Regional and Federal Studies
Comparative Political Studies
 Nationalism and Ethnic Politics
, and
 State Politics and Policy Quarterly
Copyright 2011 William P. Ruger, Jason Sorens, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason UniversityALL RIGHTS RESERVEDFor information about permission to reproduce selections from this report, please contact the Publications Manager,Mercatus Center at George Mason University, 3351 N. Fairfax Drive, 4th floor, Arlington, Virginia, 22201.www.mercatus.orgISBN 978-0-9836077-0-0
    M    E    R    C    A    T    U    S    C    E    N    T    E    R    A    T    G    E    O    R    G    E    M    A    S    O    N    U    N    I    V    E    R    S    I    T    Y
This study comprehensively ranks
the American states on their public policies thataffect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. It updates,expands, and improves upon our inaugural 2009
 Freedom in the 50 States
study. Forthis new edition, we have added more policy variables (such as bans on trans fats andthe audio recording of police, Massachusetts’s individual health-insurance mandate,and mandated family leave), improved existing measures (such as those for fiscal poli-cies, workers’ compensation regulations, and asset-forfeiture rules), and developedspecific policy prescriptions for each of the 50 states based on our data and a survey of state policy experts. With a consistent time series, we are also able to discover for thefirst time which states have improved and worsened in regard to freedom recently.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 unrea-sonable 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 truecost of government to the citizen.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. 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.The data used to create the rankings are available online at http://mercatus.org/ freedom-50-states-2011, and we invite others to see how the overall state freedomrankings might change given their own weightings of the various public policies.

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