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. 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. See this post for a full explanation: State Similarity Rating
Similar to states in Great Lakes region
Illinois is like other states that border the Great Lakes. It is located in the Rust Belt, an area of the United States that was once dominated by the manufacturing industry, before its recent decline due to outsourcing. Illinois is also similar to some states on the East Coast, since they also have large multicultural cities with many immigrants, like Chicago.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Illinois
- Ohio is another Midwestern state with several large cities, including Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, although they are smaller than Chicago. Both states border the Ohio River and the Great Lakes. The states have a similar climate, so their agriculture is similar as well. They both grow a mix of corn and soybeans. However, Ohio is more conservative politically than Illinois, even though it has also had some Democratic senators and governors in its recent past.
- Pennsylvania‘s demographics are extremely similar to Illinois. Both states have many people with German ancestry, but also Italian and Irish ancestry. In addition, they also have a great variety of different religious denominations, although both are around 25% Catholic. One big difference is that Pennsylvania is much more mountainous than Illinois. It is also an original colony, with an relatively older history. Furthermore, although their laws are similar, Pennsylvania has more restrictions on alcohol, since wine and spirits can only be bought at state-owned stores.
- Minnesota is another liberal Midwestern state that borders both the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan. Both states almost always vote for Democrats and have many laws to protect civil rights. Their average incomes are nearly the same. In addition, their geography is similar since Minnesota and Illinois are both quite flat and have much of their land includes tall grass prairies. Still, Minnesota is colder and its population is less diverse than Illinois.
- Wisconsin is just to the north of Illinois. In fact, all of Wisconsin was once part of Illinois Territory. Both states have many singles and few households with children. The states have similar percentages of Protestants and Catholics. The vast majority of the homes in these states are heated using natural gas. Although, both states often vote for the Democratic Party, Wisconsin requires a photo ID to vote and it has not legalized marijuana, unlike Illinois. Furthermore, it has more laws restricting abortion.
- Michigan is just just across Lake Michigan from Chicago. The states both have many union members and usually vote for Democrats, although Michigan’s has anti-union laws. Michigan and Illinois also produce many professional athletes and preforming artists per capita. Michigan has far more coastline. It also has a higher percentage of forested land, although their population densities and urban land percentages are comparable .
Top 5 States Least Similar to Illinois
- Alaska is colder, far more mountainous, and has much more coastline. Illinois is also far more densely populated and developed. In addition, Alaska favors the Republican Party, unlike Illinois, although it is not the most conservative state. Alaska also has a high percentage of people in the military in contrast to Illinois. While Illinois has a lot of farming, Alaska is too cold to be farmed commercially.
- Wyoming‘s infrastructure is quite different from Illinois. The state uses far more water and electricity per capita. It also has a much lower density of roads and railroads. Furthermore, few democrats are elected in Wyoming, although it did have a Democratic governor from 2003 to 2011. Wyoming also has no income tax, while Illinois generates a lot of money through it. In addition, Wyoming is more mountainous and has a drier climate.
- Idaho‘s government is much more conservative than Illinois’. It has less protections for civil rights. It has not yet legalized marijuana. In addition, Idaho still has the death penalty. The state is also more mountainous. It also has a colder and drier climate.
- Utah‘s culture and geography are extremely different from Michigan. Utah’s population has a majority of Mormons. In addition, it is the youngest state on average. Furthermore, it has a high percentage of married people and few singles. In addition, much of Utah is a desert. Like the other states on this list, it nearly always votes for Republicans in state-wide elections.
- Mississippi‘s culture differs strongly from Illinois, despite the fact that Illinois also borders the Mississippi River. While both states enjoy football, Mississippi has less interest in ice hockey, baseball, and basketball than Illinois. It has more Baptists and less Catholics. Mississippi also has the highest percentage of African Americans in the United States. In addition, its White population also differs significantly, since most just identify their ancestry as American, while in Illinois, German ancestry is quite common and almost no one identifies themselves as just American. Mississippi is also one of the poorest states in the country.
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