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.
Massachusetts is on the northern end of the BosWash region, the highly urbanized swath of land on the Atlantic Coast between Boston and Washington DC, which is centered around New York. These areas tend to have more immigrants and are more racially diverse than most states. They are also some of the areas where the Democratic Party is the strongest. In addition, these states all border the ocean and have a temperate climate.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Massachusetts
- Rhode Island is a smaller state to the south of Massachusetts. Both states are located along the Atlantic Ocean and have major port cities. Rhode Island is the only state that has a higher percentage of Catholics than Massachusetts. The states are politically similar. Both states are dominated by the Democratic Party, but have recently had Republican governors. The states have nearly the same policies in regards to guns, abortion, and civil rights. Their demographics are also extremely similar. Both states have many immigrants from Portugal. However, Rhode Island is slightly less educated and more religious.
- Connecticut borders both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Their geography is similar. Both states are mountainous and a low percentage of their land is used for agriculture. They also have about the same population density. Their demographics are also similar. Both states are mostly White, but they also have a significant population of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. In addition, both states are highly educated and their people tend to have higher than average incomes.
- New York is yet another Atlantic Coast state on this list. Many people in both states use mass transit, since much of their population lives in densely populated cities. Both states are dominated by the Democratic party. However, New York’s population is more diverse than Massachusetts’. While few people in either state have hunting licenses, Massachusetts has more gun owners per capita. In addition, both states have universities in the Ivy League and the ACC.
- New Jersey is further south than Massachusetts. It is also less mountainous. Still, the states have some similarities. A large percentage of their land is urbanized. Both states have many laws to protect civil rights. In addition, no ID is needed to vote in these states. Furthermore, Marijuana is legal in both states. Although both states have a lot of coastline, New Jersey has more shipping infrastructure. Like New York, it is also more diverse than Massachusetts.
- New Hampshire is just to the north of Massachusetts. The people in both states tend to have high incomes. They are also some of the least religious states in the country. Their native residents have a distinct accent. Their industries are similar as well. Both states manufacture many computer and electronic products. However, New Hampshire has a much higher percentage of White people than Massachusetts. Another difference is that New Hampshire is less densely populated and does not have any skyscrapers.
The five least similar states to Massachusetts are all also significantly less densely populated. Furthermore, the people in these states tend to be much more religious. With the exception of Texas, these states have relatively few Catholics compared to Massachusetts. A far lower percentage of their people are college graduates. The Republican Party is much more popular in these states, so they have more conservative laws.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Massachusetts
- Wyoming is the least densely populated state, after Alaska. Its infrastructure is quite different from Massachusetts’ as well. Almost all of its electricity is created by coal power plants, while Massachusetts mostly uses natural gas. It also uses the most electricity per capita of any state. It has a far lower density of roads. In addition, Wyoming also has a high percentage of gun owners and hunters, unlike Massachusetts. It has far less strict gun control laws as well.
- Mississippi‘s demographics and culture differ greatly from Massachusetts. Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans in the United States and very few Catholics. Furthermore, it is much more religious. Its climate is much warmer and it rarely gets snow. In addition, Mississippi is far less affluent. Its people also tend to be significantly poorer and less educated than people from Massachusetts. Another difference is that its terrain is quite flat compare to Massachusetts.
- Oklahoma is yet another conservative, landlocked state on this list. It was one of the last states to gain statehood, in contrast to Massachusetts. Although, both states have a similar racial makeup, the ancestries of their people are quite different. Oklahoma has more people that identify themselves as having German and Native American ancestry. It also has a much milder climate and a far greater percentage of farmland. There are also fewer Catholics there.
- Idaho is one of the most conservative states. In contrast to Massachusetts, very few Democrats hold elected office there. It also is more rural and far less developed than Massachusetts. It has some of the slowest internet speeds in the United States and has few physicians per capita. Its people also tend to be less well educated. Like other states on this list, it is much less densely populated.
- Texas borders Mexico, so it has a much higher Latino population than Massachusetts, due to recent immigration. Furthermore, its people are much more interested in football and less interested in ice hockey than Massachusetts. Although both states have many Catholics, the people in Massachusetts tend to be significantly less religious. Unlike Massachusetts, it was not one of the original colonies. In fact, Texas was an independent republic before joining the United States.
Massachusetts is like if Rhode Island was more like Vermont
Massachusetts and Rhode Island are two of the most similar states, so there is little difference between them. Still, Vermont is one state that has a few characteristics of Massachusetts that Rhode Island lacks. These states are less religious than Rhode Island. Furthermore, a higher percentage of their people are part of the Congregationalist denomination. Vermont and Massachusetts are also more mountainous than Rhode Island and have a lower population density. In addition, these states do not require IDs to vote and their public universities allow undocumented immigrants to have in-state tuition.
All data accurate as of 2020.
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