Georgia’s Economic Freedom: Mostly Better

For Immediate Release
October 31, 2018
Contact: Benita Dodd, Georgia Public Policy Foundation | (404) 256-4050 

Georgia’s Economic Freedom: Mostly Better

Atlanta — Georgia’s national ranking in the Economic Freedom of North America is unchanged over last year, at No. 7 in the 2018 report released by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and Canada’s Fraser Institute.

This year, Florida overtook New Hampshire to achieve the No. 1 spot for overall economic freedom among all the states. They are followed in rank by Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Virginia and Georgia, respectively. For the fourth year in a row, New York was ranked least free (50th), followed by Kentucky (49th), West Virginia (48th), California (47th) and Alaska (46th).

The 14th annual Economic Freedom of North America report measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of states/provinces in the United States, Canada and Mexico support economic freedom, using 2016 data (latest available).

The report also includes an additional all-government ranking, which adds federal government policy to the index and includes the 50 U.S. states, 32 Mexican states and 10 Canadian provinces. In that ranking, out of 92 entities, Georgia tied for fourth place overall with Utah. New Hampshire was No. 1, Florida was second and South Carolina was third.

Looking at the categories:

  • Georgia’s rank and score improved in government spending. The state ranked No. 5 in the nation and earned 8.06 points out of 10 in 2018, after ranking ninth with 7.71 points in 2017.
  • Georgia’s rank and score declined on taxes. The state dropped one place to No. 25, earning 6.11 points this year compared with 6.31 out of 10 last year.
  • Georgia’s rank and score improved for labor market freedom as well, climbing two places to come in at No. 5 in the nation with a score of 7.24 out of 10, compared with 7.13 last year. The state finished behind Virginia, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Texas.

“It’s great to know that Georgia is holding its own, nationally and internationally,” said Kyle Wingfield, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

“The Foundation is not discouraged by the stagnant tax policy ranks; the report’s data are from 2016 and Georgia’s tax reforms took place in 2018,” Wingfield added. “We look forward to seeing our state climb in the ‘economic freedom’ ranks in the very near future, and taxpaying businesses, individuals and family keeping more of their earnings in their pockets instead of in government coffers.”

In the most-free states, the average per capita income was 7.3 percent above the national average compared to roughly 10.5 percent below the national average in the least-free states, according to the report.

“The evidence is clear: Lower levels of economic freedom lead to less prosperity, slower economic growth, less investment and fewer jobs and opportunities,” said Dean Stansel, economics professor at Southern Methodist University and co-author of the report.

The Economic Freedom of North America report, co-authored 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.

See the full report at

About the Economic Freedom Index: Economic Freedom of North America measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries support economic freedom. This year’s publication ranks 92 provincial/state governments in Canada, the United States and Mexico. The report also updates data in earlier reports in instances where data has been revised.

About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: The Foundation is an independent, nonprofit think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the view of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.

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