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
Kansas is a Midwestern state in the Great Plains region. Four of the five most similar states are all located along the Missouri River. They are landlocked, sparsely populated, and have most of their land devoted to agriculture. In addition, these states are not especially mountainous. Their demographics are also similar since they have a high percentage of White people. Furthermore, these states tend to favor the Republican Party.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Kansas
- Nebraska and Kansas are two of the most similar states. Their territories were even created at the same time by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. There is not a big difference between them in any aspect. Still, basketball is more popular in Kansas, due to the strength of the University of Kansas team. In addition, Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral legislature. It also has a higher minimum wage than Kansas and does not require an ID to vote.
- Iowa is to the east of Nebraska. It does not border Kansas, but it is also very similar. Both states primarily use both coal and wind power to create electricity. Kansas and Iowa also have a low number of doctors per capita. They also have few single people. Both states have a lot of farmland, but Iowa’s crops are slightly different, since it grows more soybeans and corn, but far less wheat. One difference is that the Democratic Party tends to do better in Iowa. In addition, Iowa also allows more gambling and has less restrictions on abortion.
- Oklahoma is just to the south of Kansas. The states have very similar politics and geography. Both states grow a lot of wheat. However their demographics are slightly different because there are more Native Americans in Oklahoma, since it has many reservations. In addition, although Oklahoma was not technically in the Confederacy, it once allowed slavery, unlike Kansas.
- Missouri is directly to the east of Kansas and it was originally part of Missouri Territory. Its climate is very similar since they are at the same latitude, but it gets slightly less rainfall. In fact, Missouri’s largest city is named Kansas City and is on the border between the two states. One difference is that Missouri allowed slavery, but Kansas did not, still neither state was part of the Confederacy. Missouri’s homicide rate is also much higher than in Kansas. In addition, Missouri has a higher percentage of forested land. It is also more mountainous, due to the Ozark Mountains in its southern portion.
- South Dakota is another conservative state in the Great Plains. Although both states have a high gun ownership rate, far more people have hunting licenses in South Dakota. The water supply of both states is primarily supplied by ground water. They are also similar politically, but one big difference is that marijuana is legal in South Dakota. In addition, it has a significantly higher percentage of surface water area, since the state dammed several portions of the Missouri River.
Four of the five least similar states to Kansas are located in the Northeastern portion of the United States. These states are all more mountainous and also have a far greater percentage of forested land. In contrast to landlocked Kansas, these states all have a significant amount of coastline. Another big difference is that these states tend to favor Democrats and have more liberal laws than Kansas. They are also more racially diverse.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Kansas
- Hawaii is the opposite of Kansas in a number of different geographic ways. It is an island in the Pacific Ocean that gets a lot of rainfall. It is also quite mountainous and a far higher percentage of its land is forested. In addition, Hawaii is far less conservative than Kansas. Very few Republicans get elected there. In addition, its population of Native Hawaiian and East Asian ancestry is much higher.
- Massachusetts is far more diverse than Kansas. It has a higher percentage of Asians and African Americans. In addition, it has many immigrants. Its people are also less religious. Furthermore they tend to be wealthier and more educated. Not only do most people live close to the ocean, but it is also much more densely populated than Kansas as well.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Very few people have guns, in contrast to Kansas. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer people have cars. The national origins of its people are much different than Kansas as well, since New York is much more diverse and its White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin. It also has a much lower percentage of people with German ancestry.
- Rhode Island is similar to Massachusetts and New Jersey. It is another densely populated state that borders the Atlantic Ocean. It has one of the highest percentages of Catholics in the country. The state has a lot of shipping and port infrastructure, unlike Kansas. While few people in Kansas use mass transportation, Rhode Islanders use Amtrak far more often than most other states.
- New Jersey is the most densely populated state in contrast to Kansas. A low percentage of its land is used for farming. New Jersey’s population is also very diverse, while Wyoming is predominately White, with German ancestry being most common. Furthermore, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to landlocked Kansas. In addition, far fewer Republicans are elected there.
Kansas is like if Nebraska was more like Oklahoma
Kansas is located in between Nebraska and Oklahoma, so it is no wonder that Kansas has attributes of both states. While Nebraska is by far the most similar state to Kansas, Oklahoma has a few characteristics of Kansas that Nebraska lacks. These states have higher suicide rates than Nebraska. Furthermore, the major universities in Kansas and Oklahoma are in the Big XII, not the Big Ten. Since these states are at lower latitudes than Nebraska their climates are warmer. Another difference is that growing wheat is more common in Kansas and Oklahoma. In addition, these states use significantly less water per capita than Nebraska.
All data accurate as of 2020.
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