Have you ever wondered how similar or different two states are? The State Similarity Index 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 Index
Similar to states that border the Great Lakes
Pennsylvania shares many of the same traits as states that border the Great Lakes. This region of the United States was once dominated by the manufacturing industry, before its recent decline due to outsourcing, so it is nicknamed the Rust Belt. These states are not particularly rich or poor. Furthermore, the five most similar states to Pennsylvania have temperate climates and tend to get a lot of snow in the winter.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Pennsylvania
- Ohio is directly to the west of Pennsylvania. It is especially similar to Pennsylvania politically, since neither Democrats not Republicans are especially dominate there. Its demographics are also fairly similar to Pennsylvania’s. Their people tend either have German or Irish ancestry. Both states border Lake Erie. Their population density is nearly identical as well. While Ohio is not as mountainous, some of the Appalachian Mountains run through its southeastern portion.
- Michigan is yet another state the borders Lake Erie. The average income and education level in these states is similar. However, Michigan is not as mountainous. It also has far more coastline than Pennsylvania, since it borders four of the five great lakes. Michigan also gets much more snowfall and has colder weather. Still, their people tend to be more interested in ice hockey than most other states.
- Illinois and Pennsylvania have similar demographics. 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 and has more forested land than Illinois. Its government also favors Democrats more than Pennsylvania as well.
- New York is the only other state that has port access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. A large portion of both states is covered by the forests of the Appalachian Mountains. However, New York’s government is dominated by the Democratic Party. Its minimum wage is far higher than Pennsylvania, although both states favor unionization. Its population is also more diverse, since it has more Blacks, Latinos, and Asians.
- Wisconsin is even further to the west of Pennsylvania than the top two states, but it still has many of its same traits. These states often vote for Democrats in presidential elections, but both of their state legislatures are relatively evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Their infrastructure is also similar. Both states create electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. Although Wisconsin has more farmland, their crops are very similar as well.
The least similar states to Pennsylvania are all located in the Western half of the United States. While Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies, the least similar states joined the country far later. Furthermore, little manufacturing is done in these states. Four of the five states have a lower percentage of forested land.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Pennsylvania
- Hawaii has far different demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure and geography from Pennsylvania. It has a much higher percentage of Asian people and a lower percentage of White people. It is also the farthest state from Pennsylvania. Its tropical climate is much hotter since it is so far south. It has much more coastline as well. While Pennsylvania was one of the first states, Hawaii was the very last state to become part of the US.
- Utah‘s culture and geography are extremely different from Pennsylvania. Utah’s population has a majority of Mormons. In addition, it is the youngest state on average. Furthermore, it has a higher percentage of married people. In addition, much of Utah is a desert. Pennsylvania and Utah are also different politically. Utah nearly always votes for Republicans in state-wide elections.
- New Mexico has a much higher percentage of Latinos than Pennsylvania. Like Utah, it is mostly desert and far less densely populated. Furthermore, it is not as wealthy and its people are not as well educated. Still, one thing they have in common is that they both often vote for Democrats, although Republicans have a strong presence in both states as well.
- Alaska is far colder than Pennsylvania. It is also far less densely populated and less developed. Alaska’s Native American population is significantly higher than Pennsylvania’s as well. While the over 90% of the state’s land has cell phone coverage, an extremely low percentage of Alaska’s land has coverage.
- Wyoming‘s infrastructure is quite different from Pennsylvania’s. The state uses far more water and electricity per capita. It also has a much lower density of roads and railroads. A higher percentage of people are married in Wyoming as well. In addition, Wyoming also has no income tax. Moreover, Wyoming has a lower percentage of forested land. It also has a drier and colder average climate.
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