Ranking Freedom in the 50 States


Which state is most free when it comes to personal, social, and economic issues?

"Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom" provides one answer to just that question. Political scientists Jason Sorens (University at Buffalo) and William P Ruger (Texas State) looked at everything from drug policy to civil union statutes to business regulations and tax rates to rank each state across multiple dimensions.

Published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University appraise each state in the union on their economic, social and personal liberty to come up with their final ranking. Maybe Jean-Paul Sartre was right about hell being other people: At the top of the list are a lot of states where almost nobody lives and at the bottom are states where just about everybody lives.

Reason Magazine senior editor Katherine Mangu-Ward sat down with Sorens and Ruger, to talk about their results, their methodology and why New York City may not be as free as New Yorkers believe.

Shot by Josh Swain, Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg; Edited by Meredith Bragg.

Approximately 9:20 minutes.

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