State of the EFNA Network

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Fraser Insight, December 2018

The recently-released 2018 edition of our Economic Freedom of North America report (EFNA 2018)—with Florida capturing the top spot from New Hampshire—gives us a prime opportunity to discuss how the report is impacting the policy debate across the United States. In just over four years, our EFNA Network has become the main vehicle for delivering an important message to state policymakers, civic leaders and engaged citizens—the message that economic freedom leads to prosperity, growth and opportunity for the states that embrace it.

From a standing start of zero partners in zero states in 2014, the EFNA Network now enfolds 52 partners in 41 states, Canada and Mexico—a truly continent-wide partnership of think tanks, academic centers and civic groups. The idea behind the EFNA Network was (and is) to spread the news about the benefits of economic freedom at the state and local level by sharing advance copies of EFNA and other EFNA-related data with state-based partners. We hoped this would encourage and enable them to promote the report and its pro-economic freedom message at the state and local level—in ways and places we had never been able to reach.

The EFNA Network is succeeding at this with flying colors.

In year one (2014), our EFNA Network yielded a 243-percent increase in U.S. media mentions over 2013. Downloads of the EFNA report more than doubled that first year of the EFNA Network, to over 10,000 downloads. In 2017, our EFNA Network helped generate 519 U.S. media mentions in traditional media outlets such as newspapers, radio and television (424 related to EFNA 2017, the rest related to EFNA 2016). That set a record for the most-ever U.S. media mentions for EFNA, and it marked a 489-percent increase over 2013 (the year before we launched the EFNA Network).

We also track U.S. web and digital media placements—outputs such as blogs, press releases, Facebook and Twitter posts, digital reports, e-newsletters, etc. The reason: Very often, these are the sorts of outputs our partners are delivering directly to civic leaders, policymakers and informed citizens in their states via their own media strategies. In other words, while there’s an important place and purpose for an op-ed in a local newspaper or national website—take it from someone who writes lots of op-eds—the EFNA Network’s web and digital media placements have a significant impact on the policy debate in each state because of how targeted they are.

In year one of the EFNA Network (after publication of EFNA 2014), we had 36 of these digital media placements focused on 11 states. As of mid-December 2018, we had 106 digital placements related to EFNA 2017 focused on 23 states—a 194.4-percent increase in just four years. We already have 33 digital media placements (focused on 15 states) related to EFNA 2018, which was published on October 30. So, we’re off to a flying start for the 2018-19 cycle.

All told, since we launched the EFNA Network, the report has been featured in and/or cited by media outlets in 35 states.

The report also has been featured in prominent national media outlets, including CNBC, Barron’s, The Hill, Forbes, Real Clear Policy, Real Clear Markets, Real Clear Health, Washington Examiner, American Thinker, National Affairs, American Spectator, National Review Online, Investor’s Business Daily, Reason, SPN News, Daily Caller and The Federalist. Given that the EFNA report seldom drew any mention in such venues before the creation of the EFNA Network, there can be little doubt that these mentions are a function of the buzz generated by our Network partners.

Moreover, the report has been cited by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, featured in the Congressional Record, mentioned by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (here and here), and referenced in multiple hearings before the Texas legislature—all since we launched the EFNA Network.

In short, our EFNA Network is getting the EFNA report in front of policymakers, policy-shapers, journalists and informed citizens—just as we hoped.

How are our EFNA Network partners doing this?

The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s reports, op-eds, newsletters and blogs constantly cite the EFNA report. And Texas lawmakers—as evidenced by tweets from Governor Abbott and the Texas Comptroller’s Office, as well as TPPF’s testimony at the state house—are getting the message.

Partners such as the John Locke Foundation in North Carolina, Arizona State University Center for the Study of Economic Liberty, and Mississippi State University Institute for Market Studies are publishing lengthy studies that feature EFNA data and findings.

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Buckeye Institute of Ohio and Rio Grande Foundation of New Mexico publish state-specific versions of the EFNA report—and deliver them to state lawmakers.

The Mackinac Center (Michigan), Arkansas Center for Research in Economics, Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Illinois Policy Institute, Troy University Johnson Center for Political Economy (Alabama), and Beacon Center (Tennessee) produce scholarly articles and op-eds featuring EFNA findings.

The Kansas Policy Institute, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Tax Education Foundation of Iowa, Nevada Policy Research Institute, Center of the American Experiment (Minnesota), Libertas Institute (Utah), Pioneer Institute (Massachusetts), and Independent Institute in California (here and here) pump out e-newsletters and news releases to their circles of influence.

The Lone Star Institute (Texas) has hosted EFNA authors for radio interviews, while the Commonwealth Foundation (Pennsylvania) specializes in social media.

This is anything but an exhaustive list. Many partners do a little—or better said, a lot—of everything to get the EFNA message out. Click here and here for more examples of the creative ways our EFNA Network is deploying the EFNA report in their important work.

Add it all up, and the EFNA Network is making a huge impact in the cause of spreading the economic-freedom message across the U.S.

More on this topic

Economic Freedom of the Arab World: 2018 Annual Report
Economic Freedom of North America 2018