Rich States, Poor States, 8th Edition

by Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, Jonathan Williams & Stephen Moore


Throughout the country, states are looking for ways to energize their economies and become more competitive. Each state confronts this task with a set of policy decisions unique to their own situation, but not all state policies lead to economic prosperity.

Using years of economic data and empirical evidence from each state, the authors identify which policies can lead a state to economic prosperity. Rich States, Poor States not only identifies these policies but also makes sound research-based conclusions about which states are poised to achieve greater economic prosperity and those that are stuck on the path to a lackluster economy.

The 2015 economic outlook ranking is a forward-looking measure of how each state can expect to perform economically based on 15 policy areas that have proven, over time, to be the best determinants of economic success.

Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index is an annual economic competitiveness study authored by economist Dr. Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, and Jonathan Williams, Director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Historical Rich States, Poor States

7th Edition | 6th Edition | 5th Edition | 4th Edition

What Others Are Saying:

“Governing on many of the economic policy principles advocated in Rich States, Poor States has led our state on a path to prosperity. The work done by Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams is second to none.”

-Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Tweet this quote

“State policymakers across America depend on Rich States, Poor States to provide an annual report on their current standing in economic competitiveness. Hardworking taxpayers want their states to follow the best policy solutions that will lead to greater economic opportunity for all. This publication provides exactly that roadmap for economic success in the states.”

-Senator Leah Vukmir, Assistant Majority Leader, Wisconsin; 2016 ALEC National Chairman Tweet this quote

“We have made modest progress by lowering the income tax, streamlining agencies and bringing fiscal responsibility to state government, but Maine still ranks near the bottom of the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. Rich States, Poor States shows policymakers just how much work we have to do to make Maine truly competitive nationally. We need only look at the states now enjoying economic success to see that lower taxes, less regulation and more free-market policies lead the way to prosperity.”

-Governor Paul R. LePage, Maine Tweet this quote

“By promoting pro-growth tax and fiscal policies, we can help every American unleash their full potential. In South Carolina, we have seen these policies lead to an economic boom, with companies large and small choosing to locate and succeed in our great state. Publications such as this one serve as valuable tools to provide policymakers with a blueprint for job creation and economic success.”

-U.S. Senator Tim Scott, South Carolina Tweet this quote

“As the national economy continues to remain far below trend, ALEC’s measures of state economic policies and how these policies contribute to state-level economic performance are more important than ever for understanding economic growth and opportunities. This publication provides fundamental knowledge for evaluating the policies that enhance economic growth, and those that lead to economic stagnation. It is a must-read for policymakers and anyone interested in how our states can grow and provide their residents more opportunities to succeed.”

-Lee Ohanian, Professor of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles Tweet this quote

“Fostering a pro-growth tax and fiscal policy environment depends on principles like those championed in Rich States, Poor States.”

-Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Tweet this quote

“For years now, policymakers across our nation have looked to Rich States, Poor States as an essential guide to evaluate how their state ranks in economic competitiveness and job creation. We have taken this message to heart by significantly reducing taxes and working to ensure that hard working Iowans keep more of what they earn. This publication is a fantastic resource for state policymakers interested in creating more economic opportunity and enhancing the level of well-being for the citizens of their state.”

-Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, Iowa; ALEC 2014 National Chair Tweet this quote

“A society based on true fairness is one that creates opportunity for everyone. Rich States, Poor States highlights the states whose public policies best empower citizens to earn their own success.”

-Arthur C. Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute Tweet this quote

“Pro-growth tax and fiscal policies outlined in Rich States, Poor States help to foster an environment full of opportunities for taxpayers across our nation. In my home state of Washington, we do not tax individual income, which enables greater opportunities for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses, and gives taxpayers greater opportunity to provide for their own families. Anyone interested in bringing economic success to their own state will benefit from this publication.”

-Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Tweet this quote

“Over the past few years, Kansas has taken up the task of fundamentally improving our tax code. As reflected in the most recent edition of Rich States, Poor States, the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, the results of this overhaul have been excellent, with record new business startups and falling unemployment, Kansas is more economically competitive than ever. In my view, the high-quality research undertaken throughout the seven editions of Rich States, Poor States has done more to promote state economic growth and competitiveness than any other publication of its kind.”

-Speaker Ray Merrick, Kansas Tweet this quote

“The evidence is clear: Economic prosperity is attainable for those states that exercise discretion and discipline in spending and taxation. Pro-growth tax and fiscal policies—like those championed by ALEC and throughout Rich States, Poor States—set a clear path to a renewed national economic recovery.”

-Governor Rick Perry, Texas Tweet this quote

“I am pleased to see Rich States, Poor States in its 6th edition. This edition, like its predecessors, reviews fiscal policies that contribute to economic growth compared to policies that detract from such growth. It has become a go-to source for state policymakers”

-Governor Matthew Mead, Wyoming Tweet this quote

“As Justice Brandeis noted, one of the happy aspects of the federal system is that a state may serve as a laboratory and try novel policy experiments. In 2012, the ‘Texas Experiment’ of light taxation and regulation produced more jobs than any state, and an economy growing at twice the national state average. Anyone interested in bringing similar success to their state should read this book.”

-U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Tweet this quote

“I want to thank the authors of Rich States, Poor States and ALEC for providing policymakers and the public with this valuable resource. There is no question that states like Utah are reaping the benefits of sound fiscal policy. It is clear that limited regulation, low taxes, low debt, and balanced budgets create the best environment for business, investment, and jobs.”

-Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, Utah Tweet this quote

“It is important for policymakers to have a publication that helps and encourages economic growth and competition between states to encourage economic prosperity. Publications like this one help educate legislators and governors with the tools to understand which policies work and which policies waste taxpayer dollars. The end goal for politicians should be the promotion of liberty, free markets, low taxation, and smaller government.”

-U.S. Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky Tweet this quote

“Most state legislatures across the country are focused on reducing spending, lowering taxes, and growing their economies. Rich States, Poor States continues to generate in-depth policy information that is critical to making decisions that will move states in a more economically sustainable direction. This publication is an important tool for policymakers, and I find it essential in understanding what makes each state competitive in a global economy.”

-Speaker Thom Tillis, North Carolina Tweet this quote


More in "Rich States, Poor States"

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    The 17th edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index features an evaluation of each independent state and key areas of policy in that state to better…

  • Rich States, Poor States 16th Edition

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  • Rich States, Poor States 15th Edition

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