Skip to content

Freedom Index – The States “NY-last again”

Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom image

Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom

Jason Sorens, William Ruger | Feb 26, 2009

This paper presents the first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. We develop and justify our ratings and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same.

This 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, while Maryland brings up the rear. 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.

The data used to create the rankings are publicly available online at, and we invite others to adopt their own weights to see how the overall state freedom rankings change


Here is the most important snapshot from the report. We suggest throwing out of office most NY officials as they are directly responcible for enabling the worse ranking in the Country. We in NY are living in the most oppressive states in the union overall, in virtually every regard, and rank as one of the worst in almost every related sub-category. For those officials we keep, and the new ones elected, we must demand they turn the tide on this critical lack of freedom and liberty.

Whoops, we forgot to mark the lower chart. NY is below the 0(zero) line, to the right of the curve, between the 50 and 60, as you can guesss – on the statist side!

%d bloggers like this: