State Similarity Rating

Have you ever wondered how similar or different two states are? The State Similarity Rating attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. For example, one might intuitively know that West Virginia is more like Alabama than Alaska but less like West Virginia than Kentucky. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. The index weights equally five major aspects of states: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The research combines 1,000 different data points. Each aspect was roughly balanced evenly between quantity/percentage and quality/type. The following paragraphs explain the exact criteria for the index more in depth:


Individuals & their personal characteristics

  • Physical: Age and Body
  • Race: Whites, Latinos, Blacks, and Asians
  • Ethnicity: Religious Background and National Origin
  • Family: Marital Status and Children
  • Affluence: Income and Education


Society & its common activities

  • Religion: Belief and Religious Denomination
  • Heritage: History and Language
  • Behavior: Vices and Crimes
  • Individualism: Ownership and Cooperation
  • Recreation: Entertainment and Sports


Government & its adopted policies

  • Protections: Rights, Punishments, Gun Laws, and Voter ID Requirements
  • Restrictions: Sex, Abortion, Smoking, Drug, Alcohol, and Gambling Laws
  • Budget: Taxation & Expenditures
  • Local Representation: Governor Elections, Mayors, and State Legislators
  • Federal Representation: Presidential Elections, Primaries, and Congressmen


Technology & essential equipment

  • Hydration: Water Qualities and Distribution
  • Electrification: Energy Source and Distribution
  • Communication: Radio, Telephone, Television, and Internet
  • Transportation: Cars, Trains, Boats, and Airplanes
  • Protection: Doctors, Firefighters, Police, and Military


Environment & its physical features

  • Location: Time Zone, Latitude, Hydrologic Region, Geologic Region
  • Terrain: Mountains and Water
  • Climate: Temperature and Precipitation
  • Vegetation: Wilderness and Agriculture
  • Anthropization: Population and Built Environment

Obviously there is no one clear way to determine how similar one state is to another. How would you quantify how similar one state is to another?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

Interested in how countries compare to each other?
Country Similarity Index
Which Countries are Most Similar to the United States?


  • If a characteristic was nearly universal, then it was not included in the calculation. For example, only Louisiana is the only state with a judicial system that combines common law with civil law. Therefore this characteristic was not used since it would not make a difference for a vast majority of comparisons.
  • Similarly, if a characteristic is almost never shared between states, then it was not included in the calculation as well.
  • Some characteristics are difficult to quantify or hard to find statistics for. For example, architecture style would have been included into the index if there were relevant statistics readily available. However, since over 100 individual statistics were used, adding in more would not significantly change the overall score for a country. In addition, many statistics highly correlate with one another.

More specific information about the statistics used in this index and how they are quantified will be reviewed in later posts.


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