- Most Free
- Least Free
- #8 Overall
- #24 Economic
- #1 Personal
- Change in overall freedom, 2007–2009:
- Change in overall freedom ranking since 2007:
- Net domestic migration, 2000–2009 (% of 2000 population):
- Governor, 2011:
- John Kitzhaber (D)
- Legislature, 2011:
- House 30R/30D, Senate 14R/16D
Oregon is the freest Pacific state and the top state in terms of personal freedom. Moreover, Oregon enjoyed the greatest increase in freedom of any state since 2007 and the highest positive jump in the overall rankings (from #22 to #8). This was primarily due to big improvements in the quality of its court system, the enactment of same-sex civil unions, and a substantial decline in tax collections (from 9.7 percent to 8.8 percent of personal income). Despite the low taxes, government spending in Oregon remains much too high, resulting in relatively high state debt. Public safety, administration, and environment and housing look particularly ripe for cutting. Gun control laws are a bit better than average. Marijuana possession is decriminalized below a certain level, and there is medical marijuana (cultivation and sale are felonies, though). However, arrests for victimless crimes are surprisingly high (though Oregon’s drug law-enforcement rate declined markedly since 2007). Oregon is one of the few states to refuse to authorize sobriety checkpoints. It is also the only state besides Washington (and now Montana, which allowed it after the closing date on our data) to permit physician-assisted suicide. Private- and homeschool regulations are quite reasonable. Oregon also does quite well in terms of asset forfeiture. The state’s cigarette taxes are higher than most, and its smoking bans were recently tightened. Oregon’s spirits tax is the highest in the country and quite extreme (though interestingly, its neighbor, Washington, is the only other state three standard deviations above the national average). State land-use planning is very advanced. The minimum wage is the second highest in the country when adjusted for average wages. Labor laws are generally poor. Occupational licensing is excessive. However, health-insurance coverage mandates are a bit below the national average.
- At the state level, spending on the inspection and regulation bureaucracy, natural resources, and government employees’ retirement is well above national norms. We recommend cutting spending in these areas and reducing public debt.
- Eliminate occupational licensing for massage therapists, funeral attendants, pest-control workers, elevator installers and repairmen, boilermakers, fishers and related fishing workers, agricultural product graders and sorters, farm-labor contractors, and other occupations.
- Maintain, if not reduce, the minimum wage, even in the face of future inflation.
State Freedom Calculator
You know how free your state is today, but how free could it be in the future? Here are four policies from each area of the index--fiscal, regulatory, and paternalist--that allow you to play policy maker. Select from the options below and observe as your state's rankings in economic, personal, and overall freedom will be recalculated in real time and your state's ranking will rise or fall depending on your choices.