Is Delaware a state of opportunity? That is the question John E. Stapleford, David T. Stevenson, and Francis X. Tannian, all of the Caesar Rodney Institute, explore in a new report, available here. The authors found that economic output, personal income, and job creation have all slowed considerably in Delaware over the years and are converging on the national average, which has reduced the quality of life for all Delawareans.
The report highlights that output in Delaware for 2007 only reached 12% above the national average, not counting financial services. This is troubling, according to the authors, because Delaware once had a large, thriving, and diverse economy. Further, much of the output from financial services does not remain in Delaware. Additionally, per capita income has fallen from 4% over the national average to just 2% above. Moreover, the employment growth rate, which averaged 10% between 1993 and 2000, averaged at just over 4% between 2003 and 2007. The authors also point to deteriorating property rights, increasing crime rates, and poor school performance, among other things, as troubling trends for the state. Consequently, the authors are concerned that not enough is being done to foster human freedom through economic growth in Delaware.
However, the authors suggest a way forward. Quoting Amartya Sen, they write, “Enhancement of human freedom is both the main objective and the primary means of economic development and growth.” To foster economic growth, the government must allow the private sector to thrive. The authors write, “The best a state like Delaware can do is provide a framework of regulations, laws, taxes, spending and services that facilitate the process of economic change...the process of “creative destruction;” an environment that maximizes the freedom of individuals to make the most out of their lives.” If you care about economic growth and, it follows, human freedom, then CRI’s report is worth your time to read.