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 methodology is exactly the same for each state. The research combines 1,000 different data points to arrive at the conclusions.
Top 5 States Most Similar to New Jersey
BosWash is the name for the highly urbanized swath of land on the Atlantic Coast between Boston and Washington DC. The top five states most similar to New Jersey are located in this region. These states were all part of the original 13 colonies of the country. They tend to have more immigrants and are racially diverse. They are also some of the areas where the Democratic Party is the strongest. In addition, most of these states are densely populated.
- Connecticut is another densely populated state in the vicinity of the New York City metropolitan area, so its people are also relatively wealthy and highly educated. Both states have many singles, but few divorced people. These states also heavily favor Democrats. Very few people in these states live in mobile homes. They both get most of their electricity from nuclear power or natural gas. One difference is that many homes in Connecticut are heated by fuel oil, while most homes in New Jersey use natural gas.
- New York is to the north of New Jersey. These states tend to be similar since much of New Jersey’s population is in New York City’s metropolitan area. Many of their people use mass transportation and a relatively low percentage of their people live in single family homes. In recent decades, these states almost always vote for the same presidential primary candidates. These two states also have the highest percentage of Jews in the United States. Very few people have guns or hunting licenses in these states. However, New York is more mountainous than New Jersey.
- Maryland is another state with a lot of racial and ethnic diversity, however it has a far lower percentage of Italians than New Jersey. Their governments are also very similar. Both states have policies favorable to unions and many gun restrictions. They also have well developed transit infrastructure, so fewer people own cars there than most other states. In addition, Maryland and New Jersey have a lot of wetlands and much of their land is close to the Atlantic Ocean.
- Massachusetts is another state located on the Atlantic Ocean, although its climate is far colder than New Jersey’s. Although both states have many Asian people, Massachusetts has a higher percentage of White people and a lower percentage of Blacks and Latinos. The state is also significantly less religious than New Jersey. Still, their internet speeds and access to internet are about the same. A high percentage of both states is urban land. However, people in Massachusetts tend to be less religious.
- Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state, after New Jersey. Furthermore, most people in both states are within an hour’s drive of the Atlantic Ocean. Rhode Island and New Jersey also have many people with Italian and Irish ancestry. Despite the fact that they are both “sanctuary states”, neither state allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. In addition, these states have relatively few restrictions on gambling. However, New Jersey has a higher percentage of married people.
Top 5 States Least Similar to New Jersey
The five least similar states to New Jersey are much less densely populated and located to the west of the Mississippi River. Furthermore, they are all landlocked. These states also tend to have more conservative laws and more often vote for Republicans. In addition, the five least similar states have a far higher percentage of White people. New Jersey is more racially and religiously diverse.
- Wyoming and New Jersey are two of the most different states, according to the Index. Wyoming is the least densely populated state, after Alaska. It is also landlocked and its climate is much drier than New Jersey’s. Its infrastructure is also quite different from New Jersey. Almost all of its electricity is created by coal power plants, while New Jersey mostly uses gas and nuclear energy. Wyoming also uses the most electricity per capita of any state, due to a high amount of mining. It has a far higher percentage of gun owners and hunters as well.
- Idaho is one of the most conservative states. Its laws are far different from New Jersey, since it has few gun restrictions and marijuana is still illegal there, even for medicinal use. In addition, photo ID is strictly required for voting there. It also is far less developed. It has some of the slowest internet speeds. It also has a lower percentage of Catholics and a higher percentage of Mormons.
- Utah has a majority Mormon population and is much more religious than New Jersey. Utah’s population is one of the least diverse in the country, since the vast majority of people living there are White. Furthermore, Utah has the highest percentage of married people and families with children, in contrast to New Jersey. Its geography significantly different as well since it is a dry landlocked desert.
- Montana is to the east of Idaho and to the north of Wyoming. It also has a low population density and is very rural. In addition, its people are on average less educated than New Jersey’s and their people have lower average incomes. However, neither state is especially religious or irreligious. Montana is also slightly less politically conservative than other states on this list.
- North Dakota is the least similar state to New Jersey in the Midwest. In contrast to New Jersey, a high percentage of its land is used for agriculture. It is also significantly colder, so it gets far more snowfall. A high percentage of people in North Dakota have Norwegian and German ancestry, while many people in New Jersey have Italian ancestry. The oil and gas industry is a big part of North Dakota’s economy, whereas New Jersey’s economy is more diversified.
New Jersey is like if Connecticut was more like Delaware
According to the Index, New Jersey is the most similar state to Connecticut. However, the analysis shows that they also have some differences as well. Delaware is one state that has a few characteristics of New Jersey that Connecticut lacks. New Jersey and Delaware are further to the south, so their climates are not as cold. They are also less mountainous than Connecticut. Furthermore, the gambling laws in New Jersey and Delaware are not nearly as strict as in Connecticut. Another difference is that these states have more maritime cargo port infrastructure than Connecticut.
All data accurate as of 2020.