Professors William Ruger and Jason Sorens have just released their Freedom in the Fifty States Index, which ranks the states based on public policies affecting economic, social, and personal freedoms (e.g., bans on trans fats and the audio recording of police, licencing laws, taxes, mandated family leave, etc.). They also included specific policy prescriptions for each of the 50 states based on their data as well as a survey of state policy experts.
Check out the whole project and its great website here. You will find the ranking for each state as well as the methodology. They have videos for every state, and you can choose what freedoms you care about to build your own rankings.
This year’s most free state is North Dakota. The state is followed by South Dakota,Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. Among the the explanations for North Dakota’s ranking is its regulatory process:
A big part of North Dakota’s high ranking on regulatory policy is due to the state’s excellent liability system. North Dakota also scores well on land-use freedoms, with better-than-average residential land-use regulations and significant eminent domain reform. North Dakota possesses a strange workers’ compensation funding policy: all private and self-insurance is banned, and employers are required to contribute to a state fund.
However, it is a right-to-work state. Occupational licensing is excessive but the fees and education/experience requirements are relatively low. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have greater scope of practice than they do in many other states. Health insurance coverage mandates are a bit worse than average, but the state only has rate bands. Cable regulation has not been reformed.
However, as Ruger and Sorens note, the state could be even better if it cut spending and adopted other free-market policies.
Not surprisingly, and as it did last year, New York State ranks last. It is followed closely by California and then New Jersey.
Read more: nationalreview.com