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.
Mississippi is a Southeastern state. Many states are quite similar to it in the region. The top five states once allowed slavery and were part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. 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.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Mississippi
- Alabama‘s geography is especially similar to Mississippi. 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 have many restrictions on abortion, but few restrictions on guns. 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.
- Louisiana is the only another state located on the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast. Both states have a low percentage of married people. They also produce an unusually high amount of professional athletes. In addition, both states primarily use natural gas to create electricity, however Louisiana uses far more electricity per capita, since it is more industrial. Another difference is that Louisiana has more of a French influence, since it used to be a French colony before it was purchased by the United States. As a result, it also has a much higher percentage of Catholics.
- Arkansas borders Mississippi to its west. Its agriculture is also extremely similar to Mississippi. They both predominately grow soybeans. However, Arkansas is more mountainous, since it has the Ozark and Ouchita Mountains. Furthermore, it is landlocked. Neither state is especially affluent. Arkansas and Mississippi have the two lowest percentage of college graduates in the country and also low have lower incomes than average as a result.
- Georgia is another state considered to be part of the Deep South, although it is in the Eastern Time Zone, not the Central Time Zone. It has the second highest percentage of African Americans, after Mississippi. One big difference is that Mississippi is more rural and far less affluent. The average income in Georgia is higher and more people have college degrees. Another difference is that Democrats have recently done better in Georgia than in Mississippi.
- South Carolina is on the Atlantic Coast, not the Gulf Coast, but still both states have many similarities, especially in politics. The laws in both states are not favorable to unions. They also have few restrictions on smoking in public. Neither state has voted for a Democratic president, governor, or senator in the last 15 years. One difference is that South Carolina primarily uses nuclear energy to create electricity, although the states are part of the same electrical grid.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Mississippi
The five least similar states to Mississippi are in New England and along along the Pacific Coast. These states are typically dominated by Democrats, in contrast to Mississippi. They are also more religiously diverse, while the vast majority of people in Mississippi are Protestant Christians. Another difference is that these states are relatively mountainous, in comparison to Mississippi. They tend to be wealthier as well.
- 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. Its tropical climate and agriculture is also quite different from Mississippi. As a result, a low percentage of homes in Hawaii have air conditioning, since the ocean prevents temperatures from becoming extreme. In addition, it is far more mountainous.
- 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 Mississippi, 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. Still, both states are heavily forested.
- California is another extremely liberal state that borders the Pacific Ocean. Its Latino population is far higher than Mississippi and as a result it also has a far higher percentage of Catholics. Another difference is that its agriculture land grows more fruits and vegetables. California also has a drier climate and it is also more mountainous. It also has a much longer coast than Mississippi’s.
- Vermont borders Canada. Since it is so far north, its climate is much colder and it also gets far snowfall. Furthermore, Vermont is extremely mountainous, since it is located in the Appalachian Mountains. Another big difference is that Vermont is far less religious. In contrast to Mississippi, few people are members of the Baptist church. It also has one of the highest percentages of White people in the country.
- Connecticut has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country and it has few restrictions to abortion, in contrast to Mississippi. The national origins of its people is much more diverse than Mississippi. Even its White population is quite different, since so many have Irish and Italian ancestry. In contrast, most Whites in Mississippi identify as only having “American” heritage.
Mississippi is like if Alabama was more like Louisiana
Alabama is by far the most similar state to Mississippi, according to the Index. Few states are more similar to Mississippi than Alabama. Louisiana is one state that has some characteristics of Mississippi that Alabama lacks. Both Louisiana and Mississippi border the Mississippi River. As a result of being in the river delta, their terrain tends to be flatter than Alabama. These states also have a slightly higher percentage of Black people than Alabama. Furthermore, these states have some of the lowest percentages of married people in the country.
All data accurate as of 2020.