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The impact of labor freedom on geographic cost of living differentials: Controlling for economic and quality of life factors, 2016

Richard Cebula (Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
James E. Payne (Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois, USA)
Donnie Horner (Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)
Robert Boylan (Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, USA)

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

ISSN: 2045-2101

Article publication date: 6 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of labor market freedom on state-level cost of living differentials in the USA using cross-sectional data for 2016 after allowing for the impacts of economic and quality of life factors.


The study uses two-stage least squares estimation controlling for factors contributing to cost of living differences across states.


The results reveal that an increase in labor market freedom reduces the overall cost of living.

Research limitations/implications

The study can be extended using panel data and alternative measures of labor market freedom.

Practical implications

In general, the finding that less intrusive government and greater labor freedom are associated with a reduced cost of living should not be surprising. This is because less government intrusion and greater labor freedom both inherently allow markets to be more efficient in the rationalization of and interplay with forces of supply and demand.

Social implications

The findings of this and future related studies could prove very useful to policy makers and entrepreneurs, as well as small business owners and public corporations of all sizes – particularly those considering either location in, relocation to, or expansion into other markets within the USA. Furthermore, the potential benefits of the National Right-to-Work Law currently under consideration in Congress could add cost of living reductions to the debate.


The authors extend the literature on cost of living differentials by investigating whether higher amounts of state-level labor market freedom act to reduce the states’ cost of living using the most recent annual data available (2016). That labor freedom has a systemic efficiency impact on the state-level cost of living is a significant finding. In our opinion, it is likely that labor market freedom is increasing the efficiency of labor market transactions in the production and distribution of goods and services, and acts to reduce the cost of living in states. In addition, unlike previous related studies, the authors investigate the impact of not only overall labor market freedom on the state-level cost of living, but also how the three sub-indices of labor market freedom, as identified and measured by Stansel et al. (2014, 2015), impact the cost of living state by state.



Cebula, R., Payne, J.E., Horner, D. and Boylan, R. (2017), "The impact of labor freedom on geographic cost of living differentials: Controlling for economic and quality of life factors, 2016", Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 385-395.



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