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Tennessee ranked among 10 least-prosperous states in new index

A sign welcomes people to Tennessee.

(The Center Square) – A London-based think tank has ranked Tennessee the 41st most-prosperous state in the U.S.

The Legatum Institute is a think tank that claims to create “pathways from poverty to prosperity and the transformation of society.” The United States Prosperity Index seeks to measure prosperity based on institutional, economic and social well-being. It is designed to be a guide for lawmakers.

The index assessed states’ performance across 11 criteria, including business environment and market access, living conditions, health, education, safety, social capital and personal freedom.

Overall, Tennessee ranked 41 out of 51 (the analysis included the District of Columbia). To inform the rankings, Legatum analysts drew on input from a group of 40 academics and policy experts around the U.S.

Tennessee ranked high on economic and business fronts. The state’s labor market flexibility ranked first nationally. Fiscal sustainability ranked 14th. Overall economic quality and business environment ranked 22nd.

Government institutions also ranked high. Tennessee ranked fifth in the nation for rule of law and 19th for overall governance. Political accountability, however, was ranked 47th.

While the word “prosperity” implies monetary or economic means, the Legatum index goes beyond.

“Genuine prosperity is about far more than a society’s economy or an individual’s financial wealth,” the index reads. “It represents an environment in which everybody is able to reach their full potential. A nation is prosperous when it has effective institutions, an open economy, and empowered people who are healthy and educated.”

In the health category, Tennessee ranked 45th.

Tennessee came in last in the nation in the social tolerance category, driving the state’s personal freedom ranking to 48th.

In education, Tennessee ranked 36th, faring better on secondary education than primary. That ranking is slightly better than analysis from U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Tennessee 38th in the nation for K-12 education.

While the Legatum Institute index measures a holistic interpretation of prosperity, Tennessee has received much higher marks on solely economic grounds.

Tennessee has been ranked 10th in the nation for lowest taxes, according to an analysis by WalletHub, and U.S. News and World Report ranked Tennessee 12th in the nation for economic stability and potential.

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