It found that the freest states tended to be conservative “red” states, while the least free were liberal “blue” states.
The freest state overall, the researchers concluded, was North Dakota, followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Oklahoma. The least free state by far was New York, followed by California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island.
The study also compared its measures of economic and personal freedom to population shifts and income growth, and found that freer states tend to do better on both scores than those less free.
For example, it found a strong correlation between a state’s freedom ranking and migration, which means that Americans are gravitating toward states that have less-intrusive governments.
This might be part of an explanation for migration. But the website itself makes it difficult to find the correlation – go to the FAQs and then you can click through to a 234 page PDF file. And then I can’t find exact correlations. Here is what the regression results suggest (page 105 of the PDF):
The estimates from equation 2 imply that a half-unit change in fiscal policy score, for instance from Michigan to New Hampshire (2011 values), is associated with an increase in net interstate migration of about 2 percent of 2000 population; a half-unit change in regulatory policy score, for instance from New Jersey to Virginia (2011 values), is associated with an increase in net interstate migration of about 4.2 percent of 2000 population; and a quarter-unit change in personal freedom score, for instance from Alabama to Maine (2011 values), is associated with an increase in net interstate migration of about 2.5 percent of 2000 population. If we can interpret these relationships as causal, then to policy makers interested in attracting newresidents and businesses we would recommend measures to increase freedom and reduce cost of living.
I would want to see some other variables tested to rule out other competing factors.