New Jersey and New York Ranked as Worst States for "Individual Freedoms"

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"This is true for both economic freedom and personal freedom," Ruger said. "People are voting with their feet and moving to open, tolerant, and economically free states and away from nanny-states."

As an example, increasing points on the "freedom scale" by 0.5 points, from Connecticut to Iowa, for example, increases net migration by 5.9 percentage points, based on population figures from 2000, according to the report.

Second, Ruger said that economic freedom is associated with income growth. The study results showed that a 0.25 unit increase in economic freedom increases the average annual growth rate in personal income by about 0.25 percentage points.

Statistically speaking, South Dakota should have a growing population and increasing incomes because the state ranked first in economic freedom and second in overall freedom. Census Bureau data shows more people at least moved to South Dakota from other states (29,631) than left for another state (25,950) in 2009.

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