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 landlocked states in the Western US
Utah is one of the most unique states, only Idaho is significantly similar to it. The biggest difference is that a majority of the population is Mormon. They have a unique culture, which also makes their state have extreme demographic differences from other states. The five most similar states are also landlocked and their climates are relatively dry. Four of the five border Utah. With the exception of Colorado, the people in these states tend to be quite conservative as well so they often elect Republicans.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Utah
- Idaho is just north of Utah. It has the highest percentage of Mormons outside of Utah, with around 20%. It also has the second highest percentage of married people. Scouting is quite popular in these states as well. Both states favor Republicans and have conservative policies. Still, it does not have strict voting ID laws and prohibits state workers from collective bargaining, unlike Idaho. The states are both mountainous and have similar plants. However, Utah has less rainfall and is warmer.
- Colorado is to the east of Utah. Like Idaho and Arizona, it is another extremely mountainous and scenic state, although it has more rainfall. One massive difference between Utah and Colorado is politics, since Colorado often favors the Democratic Party and is generally more liberal and wealthy. Still, both states lack gun restrictions. Their populations are also fairly similar, since they are mostly White, but have roughly the same percentage of Latinos and African Americans. Both states primarily use coal, but also natural gas to create electricity. They also have similar taxation methods.
- Wyoming‘s demographics are quite similar to Utah’s except that they have far less Mormons and more people with German ancestry. Both states have very few immigrants. However, there are some significant differences as well. While both states favor Republicans, they have many different laws. Utah has a ban on smoking in public and allows undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Utah also has much lower gun ownership and hunting license rates. Furthermore, Wyoming uses and creates much more electricity per capita.
- Arizona borders Utah to the south. Both states are tourist destinations since they have many national parks due to their array of mountains and canyons. However, Arizona is hotter and has less rainfall. Both states have large capital cities and relatively little population in rural areas. They also have some of the lowest union membership rates in the country. One big difference is that Arizona has a much bigger Latino population. Although the state favors Republicans, it has been steadily shifting to being a more moderate state due to the influx of immigrants. Another difference is all alcohol can be purchased in grocery stores, in stark contrast to Utah. Furthermore, marijuana is fully legal in Arizona.
- Kansas has much more agricultural land and its landscape is not nearly as mountainous as Utah. Still, the two states have some demographic and political similarities. Both have an above average percentage of college graduates and have a high percentage of married people. They have about the same gun ownership and hunting license rates. Capital punishment is still legal, but both rarely use it. Furthermore, both states have relatively restrictive marijuana and abortion laws.
The five least similar states to Utah are all located in the Northeast region of the United States. These states all border the Atlantic Ocean and are in the Eastern Time Zone. These states have few Mormons and a much higher percentage of Catholics than Utah. These states are also far more densely populated and their land is more forested. In addition, the people in these states heavily favor the Democratic Party, unlike in more conservative Utah.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Utah
- Rhode Island has the highest Catholic population of any state and has few Mormons. Rhode Island is much more densely populated and far less mountainous. A large percentage of its land is urban and close to the coast. It also relies on natural gas to create electricity, while a majority of Utah’s electricity is created by coal power plants. Furthermore, few people in Utah have cable television, unlike Rhode Island.
- New Jersey is somewhat like New York, since a large portion of its population is in the New York metropolitan area. In contrast to Utah, it has the densest population of any state. It has a far denser network of roads and railroads. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to Utah, where most of its water does not even flow to the ocean. In addition, Utah does not have a lottery, while New Jersey has less restrictive gambling laws.
- Massachusetts is one of the least religious states, in contrast to Utah. It has a higher percentage of LGBT people. It also has a much lower suicide rate than Utah. Its population is also more diverse, as it has many Chinese, French, and Portuguese speakers. It also allows all alcohol to be sold in grocery stores. One thing they do have in common is that they have relatively few people divorced people.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. It is also friendly to unionization, in contrast to Utah. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer have cars. The national origins of its people is much different than Utah. New York’s White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin. In contrast, Utah has more people with English ancestry.
- Connecticut borders both New York and Massachusetts. The people in these state are wealthier on average than the people in Utah. Connecticut’s laws are significantly less conservative as well. Furthermore, Utah has the highest percentage of married people, in contrast to Connecticut. Its climate is also significantly colder and wetter. Another difference is that it is much more densely populated.
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