New Map Shows Americans Where to Go If They Crave Freedom and Liberty
The John Locke Foundation has released the “2015 First in Freedom Index” which ranks states by how much personal freedom it’s residents enjoy. The ranking is based on an analysis of each state’s fiscal, education, regulatory and healthcare policies.
• Fiscal Policy, including taxes and government spending is 50 percent; • Education Policy, including public and private school choice is 20 percent; • Regulatory Policy, including land use, occupational licensing, and tort reform is 20 percent; and • Healthcare Policy, including health insurance is 10 percent.
Washington, D.C., U.S. territories, and related jurisdictions were not included due to data limitations.
Fiscal Policy consists of four sub-variables: tax burden, consumption expenditures by government, subsidies, and social insurance payments. Each sub-variable is rated on a 10-point scale and then weighted at twenty-five percent, three, four, and three percent respectively. The total weighted score for all sub-variables are what constitute the overall fiscal ranking which encompasses thirty-five percent of the total First in Freedom Index.
The Educational Freedom ranking includes 18 variables. Eight of the variables rank state spending and participation in private school choice programs, such as tax credit scholarships, vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts (ESA). Eight of the variables examine public school choice, including virtual schools, charter schools, open enrollment, and expanding the teaching pool. The final two variables rank states based on the percentage of school-aged children in home schools and legal restrictions to homeschooling. All variables represent the latest data available from their respective sources.
The Regulatory Freedom ranking comprises six sets of variables. They concern measures of regulations over land use, the labor market, utilities, occupational freedom, torts, and insurance. With the exception of torts, each major category of variables consists of several subvariables.
The health care variables selected from the Mercatus Center’s First In Freedom index measure how many states enforce certain health care regulations and the stringency of each state’s regulation. The selected variables have been weighted based on their overall impact on personal freedom for consumers, health care providers, and insurers.