(The Center Square) – Mountain states rank among the “most free” in North America, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute.
The Canadian think tank employs 10 variables for its Economic Freedom of North America 2023 reports and scores states based on categories such as government spending, taxes, labor market freedom, legal system and property rights, sound money, and freedom to trade internationally.“Individuals have economic freedom when (a) property they acquire without the use of force, fraud, or theft is protected from physical invasions by others and (b) they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others,” the Fraser Institute says in its latest report, citing a definition from the 1970s by then Fraser Institute-authors James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, and Walter Block. “Thus, an index of economic freedom should measure the extent to which rightly acquired property is protected and individuals are engaged in voluntary transactions.”Idaho came in fourth overall in North America for economic freedom and had the highest ranking of all the mountain states, scoring 8.05 out of 10. The Gem State graded well in government spending, labor market freedom, and sound money categories.Montana tied for sixth with Utah, due in part to high marks on taxes and sound money, as well as Utah’s performance in labor market freedom and sound money.Wyoming ranks 13th, followed by Colorado (15th) and Nevada (16th). New Mexico and Arizona came in 41st and 42nd, respectively.The report, which includes an interactive map, is based on 2021, because that year has “the most recent available comprehensive data,” according to the think tank.