U.S. Metropolitan Area Economic Freedom Index

U.S. Metropolitan Area Economic Freedom Index

In 2013, O’Neil Center Research Associate Professor Dean Stansel (then an economics professor at Florida Gulf Coast University) produced the first local-level economic freedom index, modeled on the Fraser Institute’s state-level Economic Freedom of North America (EFNA) index. Like the EFNA, it measures the extent to which government policies are supportive of economic freedom, the ability of individuals to act in the economic sphere free of undue restrictions, but it focused on U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSA’s) rather than states. That article was published in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy and is available here.

Like the country- and state-level research, the research using the local economic freedom index has generally found that areas with higher levels of economic freedom tend to have better economic outcomes.

In January 2019, Stansel produced an updated and expanded version with nine years of data over five decades for 382 MSA’s, which the Reason Foundation published in their Policy Study series.
The new version is available here: https://reason.org/policy-study/us-metropolitan-area-economic-freedom-index/