Think Tank: VA Ranks #13 In Overall Freedom Among States, Down 1 Since 2016

Founded in 1977 and headquartered in Washington DC, the Cato Institute ranks state and national governments on a “freedom index” and proposes libertarian solutions to problems we face. In their newly-released “Economic Freedom in the World” survey, they quote: “Global economic freedom declined sharply in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic: 146 out of 165 jurisdictions saw falls in economic freedom.”

In addition to ranking nations, they rank the 50 US states as well. (As reported here, the Heritage Foundation recently ranked Virginia #20 in Education Freedom.)

The Cato Institute recently ranked the Old Dominion #13 in the category of Overall Freedom, down 1 spot from 2016. Virginia has long been known as a haven of fiscal common-sense. However, the Cato Institute now ranks the Commonwealth at #15, having eroded 7 points since 2016.

In the Regulatory Category, Virginia ranks #18, up 1 since 2016. Regarding regulations, they have these recommendation for the Old Dominion. “Legalize independent practice with full prescriptive authority for nurse practitioners, adopt a nursing consultation exception for interstate practice, and allow dental hygienists to clean teeth without dentist supervision.”

For Education, Virginia scored #8, but down 2 points in the past eight years.

Among the 50 states for Overall Freedom scores, they rank New Hampshire first, Florida second, Nevada third, and Tennessee fourth. The states scoring lowest are all Democrat-run, with California at #48, Hawaii #49, and New York State last at #50. As reported by The Roanoke Star here and here, Virginians are now forced to follow auto-emissions guidelines passed by California, despite the Golden State being 3,000 miles away.

Washington DC was not scored in this index. The entire US map with links can be seen here. The interactive page for Virginia is here.

The Cato webpage has this to say about economic freedom around the world in 2022:

Hong Kong remains in the top position, though its rating fell an additional 0.28 points. Singapore, once again, comes in second. The next highest-scoring nations are Switzerland, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, United States, Estonia, Mauritius, and Ireland.

The rankings of other large economies in this year’s index are Japan (12th), Canada (14th), Germany (25th), Italy (44th), France (54th), Mexico (64th), India (89th), Russia (94th), Brazil (114th), and China (116th). The ten lowest-rated countries are: Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Republic of Congo, Iran, Libya, Argentina, Syria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and lastly, Venezuela.

Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per capita GDP of $48,251 in 2020, compared to $6,542 for bottom quartile nations (PPP constant 2017, international $). Moreover, the average income of the poorest 10% in the most economically free nations is more than twice the average per capita income in the least free nations. Life expectancy is 80.4 years in the top quartile compared to 66 years in the bottom quartile.

The first Economic Freedom of the World Report, published in 1996, was the result of a decade of research by a team which included several Nobel Laureates and over 60 other leading scholars in a broad range of fields, from economics to political science, and from law to philosophy.

–Scott Dreyer

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