A new study out from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center illustrates a clear trend of American migration from less-free liberal States to those with a more conservative Constitutional mindset.
The institution’s “Freedom of the 50 States” report measured variables of economic and personal freedom throughout the Nation, taking a look at tax rates, government spending and debt, regulatory burdens, and State laws covering land use, union organizing, gun control and education choice. The measures were then compared to population changes, revealing growth in more liberty-friendly States spurred as Americans flocked to locales with friendlier tax and regulatory policies.
According to the study results, the top five most liberty-enabling States (No.1 being the best):
- 5. Oklahoma
- 4. New Hampshire
- 3. Tennessee
- 2. South Dakota
- 1. North Dakota
And the top five least liberty-friendly States (No. 1 being the worst):
- 5. Rhode Island
- 4. Hawaii
- 3. New Jersey
- 2. California
- 1. New York
The report indicate that Americans move from one State to another primarily for financial reasons but that liberties can also contribute heavily to the decision.
Professors William Ruger and Jason Sorens, of the Mercatus Center, write in a commentary on the report:
Some freedoms mean more to people than others, of course, and if you can’t find a good job in a state, you might not care how free it is by anyone’s standards. But we’ve considered a range of social and personal freedoms, including the right to consume alcohol and tobacco, to bear arms, to home school your children and to be free from arbitrary search and seizure. We’ve also studied the effects of over 200 distinct public policies.
The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave.
And while there’s clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won’t allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.
Where legislators think they’re responsible for protecting you from yourself and choosing the menus of your meals, it’s no great surprise that they also see fewer limitations on their power in other areas. After all, if they’re taking your food, why not also take your money?
Check out the interactive map below to see how your State stacks up in terms of liberty.
Let us know if you think the study results are accurate based on your own experiences in the comment section below and on Facebook and Twitter.