Freedom in the 50 States

November/​December 2016 • Policy Report

How free is your state? And how could it become more free? The 2016 edition of Freedom in the 50 States answers these questions and more — the index provides a thorough ranking of the American states based on how their policies provide freedom in the fiscal, regulatory, and personal realms. It is the most up‐​to‐​date and comprehensive freedom index available, as the first of such state rankings to include both personal and economic freedoms in its calculus.

Each state is carefully reviewed on a multitude of policies that affect individual liberty — from taxes and regulations to incarceration rates, drug policies, and gun rights. Along with the rankings and detailed information for each state are policy recommendations tailored to each state to improve its fiscal, regulatory, and personal freedoms. The index also tracks how the states have changed their relative positions over the years.

New Hampshire was the freest state in the Union this year, with high scores on both personal and economic freedom. New York continued to bring up the rear — its local tax burden is twice that of the average state, and it is the worst state on regulatory policy, thanks in part to rent‐​control laws.

Freedom in the 50 States is available as a paperback, but you can also visit Free​dominthe50S​tates​.org to view interactive data from the index. You can even customize the index to your personal preferences — since not everyone values all types of freedoms equally, you can rank specific issues and generate an index tailored to your values.

Freedom in the 50 States is the definitive resource on economic and personal freedom in the United States — state legislators can use it to determine how to improve their policies; scholars can use it to view the impact of local policies and craft better policy alternatives; and, of course, individual citizens can use it to understand their state’s policies and make informed personal and political decisions. Its wide‐​reaching appeal is evident from the array of media that covered its publication, including some of the nation’s most influential newspapers, such as the New York Post and New Hampshire Union Leader.