- Most Free
- Least Free
- #26 Overall
- #17 Economic
- #40 Personal
- Change in overall freedom, 2007–2009:
- Change in overall freedom ranking since 2007:
- Net domestic migration, 2000–2009 (% of 2000 population):
- Governor, 2011:
- Nikki Haley (R)
- Legislature, 2011:
- House 75R/48D/1 Vac., Senate 27R/19D
South Carolina is in the middle of the pack when it comes to overall freedom but performs quite poorly on personal freedom. In terms of fiscal policy, the tax burden is fairly low, but government spending and, therefore, debt are high. Government employment is high and could use cutting. Education spending is also high and social-service spending could be more efficient. Labor and health-insurance regulations are generally good. In particular, South Carolina has a relatively low number of health-insurance coverage mandates and is not a prevailing-wage state. Gun-control laws are a bit better than average, but among the worst in the South. For instance, open carry is completely banned, the state licenses gun dealers, and design safety standards for handguns have been imposed. South Carolina’s marijuana laws are unreconstructed, but the state is close to average in terms of victimless-crime arrests and the drug law-enforcement rate. Cigarette taxes remain the lowest in the country. However, some restrictions on smoking on private property have been allowed. South Carolina fares quite poorly in terms of schooling laws. It has mandatory kindergarten but not mandatory intradistrict public-school choice. As for homeschoolers, the state has teacher qualifications and burdensome standardized testing, recordkeeping, and notification requirements. On the other hand, it has light requirements for private schools. Asset-forfeiture laws (which are a full standard deviation worse than average) and the state’s liability system require reform. However, South Carolina’s eminent-domain laws are quite respectable.
- Prune state employment and cut hospital and health-care spending, which is far above national norms.
- Eliminate homeschooling regulations.
- Revise the state’s asset-forfeiture laws to make it more difficult for the government to seize assets and to reduce the incentive to do so by lowering the percentage of proceeds that go to law enforcement.
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.