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 to arrive at the conclusions.
Top 5 States Most Similar to Missouri
Missouri has traits of states in both the Midwest and the South. According to the Index, Missouri is the most average state in the nation. The most similar states to Missouri tend to be conservative and favor Republicans. They all have relatively temperate climates as well. In addition, these states do not have a huge amount of racial diversity. Since Missouri has a mix of farmland with relatively flat agricultural land in the north and mountainous forested land in the south, it is similar to states with a wide variety of landscapes. Four of the five states are landlocked.
- Kentucky is to the east of Missouri. Both states border the Mississippi River. They have about the same population density. They also have a similar average temperature and rainfall. Both states primarily rely on coal to create electricity. In addition, the people in both states tend to smoke more than average. Their governments have also not banned smoking in public places. They also have a similar history. Even though these states once allowed slavery, they were not a part of the Confederacy.
- Tennessee is just to the south of Kentucky. It also borders the Mississippi River. The people in both states prefer listening to Country music. Although Tennessee is more famous for its music, Missouri does have Branson, an entertainment destination for live music. They are also politically similar. However, Missouri is not nearly as mountainous or forested as Tennessee, since Northern Missouri is quite flat and has more farmland.
- Arkansas borders Missouri to the south. The Ozark Mountains run through both states. In addition, both states are landlocked but These states are quite similar politically. In the last 20 years, both states only voted for Republican presidential candidates, but they also have had Democratic governors. In addition, these states still allow capital punishment and corporal punishment in schools. However, Missouri’s population tends to be wealthier and more educated.
- Kansas is directly to the west of Missouri 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. However, the homicide rate in Missouri is much higher than in Kansas. In addition, Kansas has a much lower percentage of forested land. It is also less mountainous.
- Indiana does not border Missouri, but these states still have a lot in common. They have a similar climate, so their agriculture is similar. Both states primarily grow a mix of corn and soybeans. The accent of their people tends to be similar as well. In addition, their people tend to do a low amount of exercise compared to other states. Both states have few restrictions on guns but many restrictions on abortion. However, Indiana is more densely populated than Missouri.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Missouri
Since Missouri is landlocked and located in the middle of lower 48 states, it makes sense that the five least similar states are located on the coasts. Four of the five least similar states heavily favor Democrats. These states also tend to be less religious than Missouri. They have a lower percentage of White people as well and a much higher percentage of their people natively speak a language other than English at home.
- Hawaii has far different demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure and geography from Missouri. It has a much higher percentage of Asian people and a lower percentage of White people. Hawaii is also one of the most liberal states and in recent years almost always votes for Democrats. It is also the farthest state from Missouri. Its climate is much hotter than Missouri’s since it is so far south.
- California has far different demographics, culture, and geography from Missouri. It has a much higher percentage of Latinos and a lower percentage of White people. A far greater percentage of its people rely on public transportation. California is also one of the most liberal states. Its people earn more money per capita and it also has a higher minimum wage. A lower percentage of its land is used for farming and it tends to grow fruit and vegetables, not soybean and corn like Missouri.
- Massachusetts is more diverse than Missouri. It has a higher percentage of Asians and Latinos. In addition, it has many immigrants. Its people are also less religious and more educated. The state heavily favors Democrats, unlike Missouri. Not only do most people live close to the ocean in contrast to Missouri, but it is also much more densely populated.
- Rhode Island has a lot coastline. Most of its people live close to the ocean, in contrast Missouri. In addition, it is significantly more densely populated, so a large portion of its land is urbanized. Another difference is that Rhode Islanders tend to vote for Democrats and its people are far more liberal. The also has a far higher percentage of Catholics.
- Alaska is colder, far more mountainous, and has much more coastline than Missouri. It is also far less densely populated and developed. While Missouri has a many farms, Alaska is too cold to be farmed commercially. Alaska’s Native American population is significantly higher than Missouri’s as well. While both states tend to favor Republicans, their laws are significantly different. Alaska does not allow the death penalty or smoking in public places. Furthermore, Alaska has less restrictions on abortion.
Missouri is like if Kentucky was more like Nebraska
According to the Index, Kentucky is the most similar state to Missouri. However, these states also have some significant differences. Nebraska is one state that has many of the characteristics of Missouri that Kentucky lacks. These states have a higher percentage of people with German ancestry. They also have a far higher percentage of college graduates. Furthermore, most people in Missouri and Nebraska do not have a Southern accent. Unlike Kentucky, their territory was part of the Louisiana Purchase.
All data accurate as of 2020.