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An Economic Freedom Index for U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Forthcoming

29 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2012  

Dean Stansel

Southern Methodist University

Date Written: August 2012


This paper is the first attempt to produce an economic freedom index for local economies in the U.S. It provides a more comprehensive measure of the restrictions government places upon economic freedom compared to simple fiscal measures like total government spending or revenue. That makes it a valuable tool for a wide variety of researchers seeking to investigate the impact of government upon society, including regional economists and researchers in state and local public finance. The two economic freedom indices of nations have stimulated a large body of such research. There are several similar indices that provide the same tool for those examining state governments. Like the other two sets of indices, higher levels of local economic freedom are found to be correlated with positive economic outcomes such as higher per capita income and lower unemployment.

Keywords: local government, metropolitan area, economic freedom

JEL Classification: H7, R5

Suggested Citation

Stansel, Dean, An Economic Freedom Index for U.S. Metropolitan Areas (August 2012). Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Dean Stansel (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
214-768-3492 (Phone)


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