West Virginia ranks 58th in economic freedom in North America, according to a study published by the Fraser Institute.
The study, "Economic Freedom of North America 2012," ranks all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces using 2010 data - the most recent available. The study examines size of government, tax policies, and labor market freedom.
The province of Alberta has the most economic freedom, with Delaware coming in second, Saskatchewan third, Texas fourth, Nevada fifth, and Wyoming sixth.
West Virginia ranks just above New Mexico and Prince Edward Island.
Virginia ranks 26th; Pennsylvania, 41st; Maryland, 42nd; Ohio, 43rd, and Kentucky, 54th.
The study, posted online at www.fraserinstitute.org, is described as "an attempt to gauge the extent of the restrictions on economic freedom imposed by governments in North America." It has stirred some controversy. The Dallas Morning News described the Fraser Institute as a libertarian policy group. It is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
According to the study, "Economic freedom increases the affluence of individuals." The 10 states at the bottom of the index had an average per capita gross domestic product in 2010 of $38,017 compared to an average of $48,319 for the other 40 states, the study said.
Footnote: One of the study's authors, Nathan Ashby, is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Texas at El Paso. He earned his master's and doctorate in economics at West Virginia University.