State Similarity Index 2.0

Like the Country Similarity Index, the State Similarity Index has been revised to reflex feedback received on this project. The goal is to more closely align with people‚Äôs intuitions. Certain aspects of the index have been given more weight, while other aspects have been added and others have been deleted. Still, these changes in most cases should not greatly affect the outcome of which US states are most and least similar to other states. The maps and articles will be updated to the new version periodically.


Individuals & their personal characteristics

  • Race: Whites, Latinos, Blacks, etc.
  • Ethnicity: National Origin
  • Religion: Religious Denominations
  • Age: Average Age, Children, Elderly
  • Marriage: Married, Divorced, Single
  • Physical: Height, Weight, Gender
  • Wealth: Average Income, Poverty, Millionaires
  • Education: High School Graduates, College Graduates, Advanced Degrees


Society & its common activities

  • Religion: Belief and Religious Denomination
  • History: Statehood, Age, Slavery
  • Language: Accents and Native Languages
  • Entertainment: Sports, Exercise, Music, Television
  • Violence: Guns, Hunting, Murder, Incarceration
  • Health: Tobacco, Alcohol, Illicit Drugs, Suicide
  • Behavior: Personality, Collectivism, Charity
  • Organizations: Unions, Military, Scouting, College Conferences


Government & its adopted policies

  • Legislative: Senators, Congressmen
  • Executive: Presidential Elections, Governors, Primaries
  • Judicial: State Court, Court of Appeals, Judicial Selection, Sentencing
  • Vices: Smoking, Marijuana, Alcohol, Gambling
  • Sex: Consent, Incest, Abortion, Surrogacy
  • Budget: Taxation, Expenditures
  • Protections: Rights, Immigration, Minimum Wage, Unionization
  • Procedures: Gun Control, Voting Laws, Education Laws, Traffic Laws


Technology & essential equipment

  • Energy: Use, Electrical Grid, Sources
  • Transportation: Cars, Mass Transit, Airplanes
  • Water: Use, Content, Distribution
  • Communication: Radio, Telephone, Television, Internet
  • Shipping: Railroad Tonnage, Port Tonnage, Pipelines, Semi-Trucks
  • Construction: Homes, Skyscrapers
  • Emergencies: Doctors, Firefighters, Police, Military


Environment & its physical features

  • Climate: Temperature, Precipitation
  • Land Cover: Forest, Agriculture, Barren, Urban
  • Vegetation: Crops, Habitats Types, Floristic Regions
  • Location: Time Zone, Latitude
  • Adjacency: Hydrologic Region, Geologic Region
  • Slope: Mountains, Elevation
  • Water: Freshwater, Coastal water
  • Anthropization: Population, 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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