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Economic Freedom of North America 2012

Today, the Fraser Institute released the eighth edition of its annual report, Economic Freedom of North America 2012. The report gauges the extent of the restrictions on economic freedom imposed by governments in North America by taking into account the size of government, takings and discriminatory taxation, and labor market freedom. For the first time in the report’s history, Canadian provinces have a higher average level of economic freedom than American states. Driving the U.S.’ decline in economic freedom is an increase in government spending, over-regulation, and cronyism.

The authors of the report conclude:

“The statistical results of this year’s study persuasively confirm those published in the previous seven editions: economic freedom is a powerful driver of growth and prosperity. Those provinces and states that have low levels of economic freedom continue to leave their citizens poorer than they need or should be.”

Click to read or download the report below. Comment with how your state ranks this year!


  1. Gary Mullennix says:

    That Canada would be freer than we is a shock. We’ve shackled ourselves. They are working successfully to remove their self imposed shackles.

    • 40 years ago, Canadians didn’t have any real property rights. They started changing that piece-by-piece throughout the 70′s, just as Americas eco-nazism was just taking root. In the last 40 years, Canadians have CARED enough about economic freedom to do something to get it. The fact that America has now been passed up by Canada should surprise no one, and the fact that it took them so long should make us weep at how good we had it.

    • korbermeister says:

      How is that possible when Canada has their own version of obamacare?

      • Pulp says:

        Obviously there are other factors, as well. And as U.S. now has obamacare, too, the other factors make all the difference.

      • Andrew says:

        The healthcare is bad, but that’s only one component, also it’s limited to provincial healthcare, not national. We also don’t do the whole world policing thing, nor do we waste as much money on education, the war on drugs, among other things. We also don’t have the debt service costs, nor the ridiculous monetary policies and stimulus packages.

        Libertarian Americans would absolutely love to live in Alberta, as long as they are OK with the cold!

        • strayaway says:

          Good point about Canadian plans being provincial rather than national. That would even be consistent with the Tenth Amendment. Another thing to add is that Canadian provincial plans do not keep insurance companies and lawyers feeding at the health care trough so health care is significantly less expensive than US health care before or after Obamacare.

        • They’re giving land if you agree to build a house on it within a year.

      • mj says:

        Because they have used strong econmic revenue to support it. if the US gov got out of our way up here in nd and other parts of country the federal tax revenue wouldnt totally cure our problem but it would dent it real good

      • Canada’s healthcare system from day one had means of lowering cost, or controlling costs. That is why Canadian prescription drugs cost less. Canada has looked at ways to profit off their resources. They cut business taxes to invite businesses to come there and to boost small business growth. Canada moved more to the right economically. And if you look at the countries showing growth at this time they have all moved towards the right economically. Countries you would not think as conservative countries, China, Russia.

  2. Anon says:

    I’m surprised California and New York weren’t lower. You’d think they were Soviet States with the way a lot of people talk

    • ghmj says:

      I actually had the same shock. I’ve always heard Ny ranked #1 and Ca as #2 in economic freedom. I usually live in Cali and am in Ny for the moment. They don’t seem free at all to me. The fact that random states like Ky and Wv ranked the worst is confusing as well.

  3. Fred Mangels says:

    That California is as high as 25 is a shock.

  4. Andrew says:

    How is New Mexico so bad? Wasn’t Gary Johnson the governor there? Am I missing something?

  5. Jeff Lagemann says:

    Can someone explain to me how Illinois is one of the most free?

  6. Matt Henry says:

    Label these states as “blue” or “red.” No discernible pattern. Both sides are irresponsible and wealth-choking.

    • There is a clear statistical pattern. You could plot a trend line on “red” and “blue” states and see a clear difference. It isn’t an absolute, but look at the lowest ranked, in order from the very worst to only slightly less bad… Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan, California, West Virginia, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Hawaii…. I see a clear trend of “blue” states being less free.

  7. "Henchman Of Justice" says:

    Read the methodologies! Adjustment factors, outdated techniques not updated, certain comparable statistics that the subnational level may have but that the national (fed level) does not, that states like California have many IC’s (no employees, no report forms that provide any data, etc) which makes #25 look suspect, more like #45. Also, did the latest tax scam by the governor (Cal-Fire fee) get counted in this “economic freedom”report. Nope. Direct taxation is very proportionate to losses of economic feedom, social freedom and freedom in general. To boot, direct taxation is usually meant for subsidizing others at the detriment of the provider (the taxed)! Here is hopin’ California falls into the sea south of Cape Mendocino! – HOJ

  8. strayaway says:

    No way is California in the upper half.

  9. Roy Beans says:

    California will drop mightily next year since Cap and Trade law starts January 1st and the new taxes just voted in too. Already Title 24 rules and new “Green” rules crush business in the state and as of mid year this year every municipality has raised every fee imaginable. Just pulled permits for a 16′ divider wall and installation of 1 HC bathroom, permit fees with plan check were just about $2000! My plumber just got hit for a business lic tax for have a single small rental house in a city. On and on it goes.

  10. Wyoming is number four……………….We win we hit the top 10 with the number four slot.

  11. Arizona is 29? I know Napolitano left us with a huge deficit, we don’t have oil, and the federal government isn’t doing anything to keep our border safe (but does manage to get ranchers and Border Patrol agents killed), but 29 has GOT to be wrong.

  12. Not Steve says:

    Facebook directed me here saying that MI is worse than OH, and I am all, “Is that because we have a Republican Governor and Republican dominated legislature?”

    I say this because it showed all my conservative, right-wing friends liking economic freedom.


  13. BarrySoretorroHater says:

    LOL Nevada? uh, no. Wyoming is the most economically stable in the country and has been for over 20 years. Especially after this prick was elected the first time.

  14. Sandra Bernhard says:

    Economic Freedom isn’t any goal that i’d be pursuing. It’s irresponsible and it will ultimately eat the young of the nation. I live in Canada, in one of those provinces that’s light blue. Our provincial government (sort of like state government in the U.S.) came into power 12 years ago and made everything “business friendly”. The antithesis of business-friendly is community-unfriendly: The classic Scrooge who couldn’t care less that Tiny Tim has anything to eat. As long as he’s making profits, and looking at his spreadsheet and seeing positive return, he has blinders on to everything else. Is this really what the ideal is? Count me out.

  15. camnai says:

    Don’t confuse ‘economic freedom’ and ‘freedom’. They aren’t the same; in many cases they are antithetical.

  16. Randy says:

    What happened to Washington, DC?

  17. Smith_90125 says:

    The Fraser Institute? Those idiots were teabaggers and neo-convict conservatives before the term was invented. The financial corruption and political meddling of the Koch brothers’ is the FI’s wet dream. They hate the fact that Canada is a multiparty democracy where lobbying and corruption (like the US) isn’t possible.

    They’re as bigoted at the republicans and would “send back the illegals” if they could – by “illegals”, they mean First Nations people, and would send them back to Siberia, across the Bering Strait..

  18. conspiracygirl says:

    Yup. When I immigrated to the States from Canada 20+ years ago the USA was unquestionably a freer country economically than Canada. Now the country that many Americans still disparage as socialist is freer than the USA. If you had told me that the USA would come to embrace authoritarian statism this quickly and this fervently 20 years ago I never would have believed it.

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