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 New York
The top five states most similar to New York are located in the BosWash region, a highly urbanized corridor along the Atlantic Coast between Boston and Washington DC, centered around New York City. These areas tend to have more immigrants than the rest of the country and are racially diverse. The five most similar states to New York were among the 13 original colonies of the United States. They are also some of the areas where the Democratic Party is the strongest, since their people tend to be quite liberal. Furthermore, these states all have temperate climates.
- New Jersey is practically an extension of the greater New York City metropolitan area. Both states have a lot of racial and ethnic diversity. Their governments are also very similar. Both states do not require IDs to vote and also have policies favorable to immigrants. They also allow many forms of gambling and have few restrictions on abortion. However, New Jersey is less mountainous than New York state and most of its land is within an hour’s drive of the beach. In addition, New Jersey is much more densely populated, since upstate New York is quite rural.
- Connecticut is located to the east of New York. Although, it does not have a huge metropolis within its boundaries, part of the state is part of the greater New York City metropolitan area. Neither state is especially religious, but both have a higher than average percentage of Catholics and Jews. Both states have many people with Irish, Italian, and Puerto Rican ancestry, but Connecticut has fewer Asian immigrants. It tends to be wealthier than New York. It also has more married couples and less single people.
- Massachusetts is another state with a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean. They have a similar climate and are dominated by maple-beech forests. Although both states heavily favor the Democratic Party, Massachusetts has more restrictions on abortion and less restrictions on guns. Massachusetts is also slightly less religious and slightly more educated. In addition, it is less racially diverse than New York, since a higher percentage of its people are White.
- Pennsylvania is the only other state that has port access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. A large portion of both states is covered by the Appalachian Mountains. However, Pennsylvania’s government is less dominated by Democrats. Its minimum wage is far lower than New York, although both states favor unionization. Although neither state allows the sale of wine and spirits in grocery stores, in Pennsylvania you need to go to a state controlled store to purchase them.
- Rhode Island is yet another state in New England on this list. Not only are the incomes of people in New York and Rhode Island are about the same, but their poverty rate and percentage of millionaires are similar as well. Although both states are dominated by the Democratic Party, like Massachusetts, Rhode Island also has more restrictions on abortion and less restrictions on guns. Rhode Island is also a smaller state that is more densely populated and less mountainous. In addition, unlike New York, few people use mass transit and a much higher percentage of people have cars.
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Top 5 States Least Similar to New York
The five least similar states to New York are all significantly less densely populated. They are also landlocked. These states are all located west of the Mississippi River. With the exception of Arkansas, these states also have a much lower percentage of forested land. Furthermore, these states heavily favor Republicans and have much more conservative laws than New York. In addition, a very low percentage of people in these states use mass transportation and as a result they have more vehicles per capita.
- Wyoming is the least densely populated state, after Alaska. Its infrastructure is quite different from New York. Almost all of its electricity is created by coal power plants, while New York mostly uses gas and nuclear energy. It also uses the most electricity per capita of any state. It has a far lower density of roads and railroads. Wyoming also has many gun owners and hunters, unlike New York.
- Idaho is one of the most conservative states. Its laws are far different from New York, 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. The state is also is far less developed than New York. It has some of the slowest internet speeds in the United States and has few physicians per capita.
- Utah has a majority Mormon population and is much more religious than New York. Ironically, Mormonism was founded in New York before heading west. Utah’s population is one of the least diverse in the country, since a high percentage of its people are White and have English heritage. Furthermore, Utah has the highest percentage of married people and families with children, in contrast to New York. Another difference is that Utah’s climate gets far less rainfall and much of the state is a desert.
- Oklahoma is a yet another particularly conservative state on this list. Very few Democrats hold elected office there, in contrast to New York. Because of this, it has more restrictions on abortions and far less restrictions on guns. It also has a much milder climate and is not nearly as mountainous as New York. Furthermore, a higher percentage of its land is farmland and a lower percentage is forested. While Oklahoma’s population is not especially diverse, it does have a much higher percentage of Native Americans than New York.
- Arkansas is a Southern state that borders Oklahoma to the east. The people in this state tend to be less educated and not as wealthy as people in New York. While most Christians in New York are Catholic, Arkansas has one of the higher percentages of Baptists in the country. The state was part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. It had allowed slavery before the war and continued formalized racial segregation for decades after. A much higher percentage of its people smoke. It also has a significantly higher incarceration rate than New York.
New York is like if New Jersey was more like Pennsylvania
According to the Index, New Jersey is the most similar state to New York. However, these states have some differences as well. Pennsylvania is one state that has many traits of New York that New Jersey lacks. This is especially true in their geography. Both Pennsylvania and New York have seaport access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. However, most their land is far from the coast, unlike New Jersey. In addition, these are significantly less densely populated and are also more mountainous. Another difference is that the average income in New Jersey is higher than in New York and Pennsylvania. New Jersey also has a higher percentage of college graduates.
Full Ranking of States Most Similar to New York
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: New Jersey
Most Similar Culture: New Jersey
Most Similar Government: New Jersey
Most Similar Infrastructure: Massachusetts
Most Similar Geography: Pennsylvania
Least Similar Demographics: West Virginia
Least Similar Culture: Oklahoma
Least Similar Government: Idaho
Least Similar Infrastructure: Wyoming
Least Similar Geography: Arizona
Actually, if you include Long Island and the Lake Ontario Lakeshore, then it’s pretty clear that New York State has some certain degree of coastline, which makes it a bit more like New Jersey.