September 2019

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Excellent Post!

Unfortunately, however, both Lonegan and Christie are toast in the general election.

Brian, I think your brain is closer to being toast than Lonegan and Christie. The people of New Jersey aren't as dumb as you think.

"Chris Christie"? What were his parents thinking?

It seems reasonable that, controlling for initial GSP per capita & so on, states that have the best rankings would grow better over the next 50 years than those with worse rankings, and also that extending the index back through time would serve to explain growth through 2009-X to the present.

But I must say, here in the static case, that the overall index is negatively correlated with current per capita state personal income. The relationship is significant when regressing:

ln(per cap income) = a + b*freedom_idx

Any omitted variables in the here & now that are (a) important and (b) would be correlated with freedom_idx?

I had a look at the article describing the index. The right to own and use guns is an important component, while the right to have an abortion is not included. Also, high taxes and eminent domain regulations are considered relevant government intrusions, but the death penalty is excluded from consideration. So the index does seem to have a culturally conservative bias.

David,

In the introduction, the authors of the index acknowledge that they left out some issues because of their nature, but they have all the data on their website for anyone who wants to do the maths with other criteria.

Not sure if the index as it stands has a "culturally conservative bias", but it does a good job trying to go beyond the standard measures of economic freedoms. Moreover the authors found that the least free states in the index have experienced out-migration, which is what one would expect in a federal system.

Frederic

Frederic,

I think it's a laudable effort, and I would love to see an international version of this. I read their introduction, but their reasoning behind the exclusion of abortion rights could easily be extended to, say, banning semi-automatic weapons by someone with the opposite bias (i.e. prisoner-dilemma style problems from banning weapons that are related to crime and protection against crime as opposed to hunting).

As several property rights theories have argued, the distinction between "economic" and other freedoms are conceptually artificial. I would love to see a general global freedom index that includes stuff like freedom of speech, drug prohibitions, gay marriage as well as taxes etc. I bet Singapore would sink like a stone. It would also be nice to see something that indicates the availability/feasibility of Thiebout-style options. My bet is that Switzerland would win a global freedom index (more specifically, the Canton of Zurich).

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