New Hampshire Most Economically-Free State, New York Least-Free for Seventh Consecutive Year: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
December 16, 2021

New Hampshire Most Economically-Free State, New York Least-Free for Seventh Consecutive Year
California Second Worst

Oakland, CANew Hampshire has once again retained its status as the most economically-free state in the union, finds a new report co-published by the Fraser Institute and the Independent Institute, nonpartisan research and educational organizations.

New Hampshire scored 7.83 out of 10 in this year’s report (down from 7.84 last year), beating second-place Tennessee (7.82).

Economic freedom—the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions about what to buy, where to work, and whether to start a business—is fundamental to prosperity.

“When governments allow markets to decide what’s produced, how it’s produced, and how much is produced, citizens enjoy greater levels of economic freedom,” said Fred McMahon, the Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and coauthor of this year’s Economic Freedom of North America report, which measures government spending, taxation, and labor market restrictions using data from 2019, the most recent year of available comparable data.

Rounding out the top five freest states are Florida (3rd), Texas (4th), and Virginia (5th). At the other end of the index, New York (50th) is once again the least-free state followed by California (49th), Vermont (48th), West Virginia (47th), and New Mexico (46th).

Across North America, the least-free quartile of jurisdictions had an average per-capita income 1.0 percent below the national average compared to 7.5 percent above the national average for the most-free quartile.

“Hundreds of independent studies have produced overwhelming evidence that higher levels of economic freedom are associated with more opportunity, more prosperity, greater economic growth, more investment, and more jobs,” said Dean Stansel, report coauthor and economist at Southern Methodist University.

“California continues to rank near the bottom of the barrel due to its high taxes (ranked 45th) and government spending (46th) and its strict labor market regulations (38th). It’s been on a downward trend for the past 20 years, so it is little wonder that more Californians have been struggling to get by and many have fled the state for better economic opportunities elsewhere, causing it to lose a representative in Congress for the first time in its history,” said Adam B. Summers, economist and research fellow of the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. “The Economic Freedom of North America report shows, once again, that throwing off the shackles of government is the most effective means of allowing the greatest number of people to thrive and pursue their happiness.”

The Economic Freedom of North America report (also coauthored by José Torra, the head of research at the Mexico City-based Caminos de la Libertad) is an offshoot of the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World index, the result of more than a quarter century of work by more than 60 scholars, including three Nobel laureates.

Detailed tables for each country and subnational jurisdiction can be found at

To arrange media interviews with Adam Summers, please contact Robert Ade, [email protected], or (510) 635-3690.


The Independent Institute is a non-profit, public policy, research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring, and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship, and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

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