Economic freedom and labour market conditions

By Paul Walker 09/07/2013

An interesting new paper on Economic Freedom and Labor Market Conditions: Evidence from the States by Lauren R. Heller and E. Frank Stephenson. The abstract reads:

Using 1981–2009 data for the 50 states, this article examines the relationship between economic freedom and the unemployment rate, the labor force participation rate, and the employment-population ratio. After controlling for a variety of state-level characteristics, the results from most specifications indicate that economic freedom is associated with lower unemployment and with higher labor force participation and employment-population ratios.

The conclusion to the paper states,

Our findings have clear implications for policymakers. Adopting policies that increase economic freedom by one point in the EFNA index would reduce the unemployment rate by as much as 1.3 percentage points. Likewise a one point increase in economic freedom would increase the labor force participation rate by up to 1.9 percentage points and the employment-population ratio by as much as 2.3 percentage points. Moreover, the estimation results for the EFNA sub-components offer policymakers some guidance about the most beneficial ways to improve state EFNA ratings. The effect of area 1 (size of government) is generally larger than the effect for areas 2 or 3. Hence, our results suggest that reducing the size of government would have the largest effect on labor market outcomes.

So economic freedom does decrease unemployment and increase the labour force participation rate but reducing the size of government is the big winner for reducing unemployment.