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.
Alabama is a Southeastern state. Many states in the region are similar to it. The top five states were all part of the Confederacy during the Civil War and practiced racial segregation in the past. In addition, they are all part of the Bible Belt, the most religious area of the United States. Because of this, they tend to be very conservative politically and heavily favor Republicans. The top five states also all have a humid subtropical climate. Another characteristic these states have in common is that most of their land is forested.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Alabama
- Mississippi‘s geography is especially similar to Alabama. In fact, Alabama was part of Mississippi’s territory until it separated in 1817. They are both located on the Gulf Coast, but they have little coastline. Both states produce an unusually high amount of professional athletes. One difference is that Mississippi is less affluent. While Alabama has one of the highest cars per capita rates in the United States, Mississippi has one of the lowest despite a lack of mass transit systems.
- Tennessee borders Alabama to its north. It is another deeply religious state, where a vast majority of its people are Protestants. One difference is that Tennessee produces far more top musicians than Alabama, due to the large music industry in Nashville. Although both states are deeply Republican, another difference is that Tennessee has less restrictive abortion and gambling laws than Alabama.
- South Carolina‘s demographics are especially similar to Alabama’s. Their governments are also alike. Neither has had a Democratic governor in the past 16 years nor voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter. Marriage to cousins is fully legal in both states. In addition, both states have not decriminalized marijuana. In addition, their farmlands are extremely similar since they grow a mix of corn, cotton, soybean, and peanuts. However, it is located on the Atlantic Coast.
- Georgia‘s territory included most of Alabama and Mississippi until 1802. It also borders Alabama to its west. Their people tend to have a similar accent and national origin, although Georgia is more diverse. Due to Atlanta’s recent growth, Georgia is more affluent than Alabama as well. Furthermore, Georgia has a higher percentage of military personnel and more airplane passengers per capita.
- Arkansas is the most similar state to Alabama west of the Mississippi. Both states are relatively poor and are quite conservative. Although Arkansas is not in the Appalachian Mountains, its terrain is comparable since it has the Ozark Mountains. Both states also use a mix of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power to create electricity. However, its farms are much more devoted to growing soybeans there than in Alabama.
The five least similar states to Alabama are all located on either the Pacific or Atlantic coasts. They are also more mountainous. The four least similar states heavily favor the Democratic Party, since their people tend to be far more liberal than the majority of Americans. These states no longer practice the death penalty, unlike Alabama. They also are less religious and more multi-cultural.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Alabama
- Hawaii is one of the most liberal states. Few republicans are elected there. Furthermore, its demographics are extremely different, since it has by far the highest percentage of Asian Americans of any state and few African Americans. In addition, it has a high percentage of military personnel. Its tropical climate and agriculture is also quite different from Alabama. One of the few similarities between Alabama and Hawaii is that both have very restrictive gambling laws. Neither state even has a lottery.
- California is another extremely liberal state that borders the Pacific Ocean. It has much more coastline than Alabama. California is also more mountainous. Another difference is that its agriculture land grows more fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, Its Latino population is far higher than Alabama’s and as a result it also has a far higher percentage of Catholics.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, in contrast to Alabama. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer have cars. The national origins of its people is much more diverse than Alabama. Even its White population is quite different, since a majority are Italian in origin. In contrast, Alabama has very few Italians.
- Massachusetts is one of the most well educated and affluent states. A majority of its people are Catholic. It is also one of the least religious states. Unlike Alabama, where football is by far the most popular sport, Massachusetts also has a lot of interest in basketball, baseball, and hockey. Its climate is also much colder. The state is significantly more densely populated than Massachusetts as well.
- Alaska‘s climate is far colder than Alabama’s, since it is located much further to the north. As a result, ice hockey tends to be much more popular there than Alabama. While Alaska has a lot of coastline, since it is a peninsula with many islands, Alabama only has a little coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. Despite being a state that favors Republicans, its laws are less conservative than Alabama’s.
Alabama is like if Mississippi was more like Tennessee
The most similar state to Alabama is Mississippi, but the data shows that Tennessee has many traits of Alabama that Mississippi lacks. Alabama and Tennessee are more mountainous than Mississippi. They also have a lower percentage of Black people. Furthermore, marriage is legal for first cousins in Alabama and Tennessee but not Mississippi. These states are more densely populated than Mississippi as well.
All data accurate as of 2020.
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