The Most Similar States to Pennsylvania

map of similar states to pennsylvania

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.

diagram of similar states to pennsylvania

Top 5 States Most Similar to Pennsylvania

The data shows that Pennsylvania is a transitional state between the Midwest and the Northeast regions. This is why three of its most similar states are in the Great Lakes region, while two are part of the BosWash region. The five most similar states to Pennsylvania have temperate climates and tend to get a lot of snow in the winter. These states also favor Democrats.

  1. Ohio is directly to the west of Pennsylvania. It is especially similar to Pennsylvania politically, since neither Democrats not Republicans are especially dominate there. Its demographics are also fairly similar to Pennsylvania’s. Their people tend either have German or Irish ancestry. Both states border Lake Erie. Their population density is nearly identical as well. While Ohio is not as mountainous, some of the Appalachian Mountains run through its southeastern portion.
  2. Michigan is yet another state the borders Lake Erie. Their demographics are extremely similar. They have about the same percentage of Whites, Blacks, Asians, and Latinos. The average income and education level in these states is similar as well. Both states are known to have many factories and industry. However, Michigan is not as mountainous. It also has far more coastline than Pennsylvania, since it borders four of the five great lakes. Michigan also gets much more snowfall and has colder weather. Still, their people tend to be more interested in ice hockey than most other states.
  3. New York 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 forests of the Appalachian Mountains. However, New York’s government is dominated by the Democratic Party. Its minimum wage is far higher than Pennsylvania, although both states favor unionization. Its population is also more diverse, since it has more Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. In addition, both states have a lot of colonial history. New York and Philadelphia were some of the US capitals before Washington DC was created.
  4. Wisconsin is even further to the west of Pennsylvania than the top two states, but it still has many of its same traits. These states often vote for Democrats in presidential elections, but both of their state legislatures are relatively evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Their infrastructure is also similar. Both states create electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas, coal, and nuclear power. Although Wisconsin has more farmland, their crops are very similar as well.
  5. Connecticut is another state along the Appalachian Mountains. The average age of the people and percentage of married people are similar in these states. The people in Connecticut and Pennsylvania tend to be interested in ice hockey and soccer more than other states. Both states have strong laws in favor of unions. However, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is much lower than Connecticut. Pennsylvanians also tend to be less educated and less wealthy than people in Connecticut.

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Top 5 States Least Similar to Pennsylvania

The least similar states to Pennsylvania are all located in the Western half of the United States. While Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies, the least similar states joined the country far later. Furthermore, little manufacturing is done in these states. Four of the five states have a lower percentage of forested land.

  1. Hawaii has far different demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure and geography from Pennsylvania. It has a much higher percentage of Asian people and a lower percentage of White people. It is also the farthest state from Pennsylvania. Its tropical climate is much hotter since it is so far south. It has much more coastline as well. While Pennsylvania was one of the first states, Hawaii was the very last state to become part of the US.
  2. Utah‘s culture and geography are extremely different from Pennsylvania. Utah’s population has a majority of Mormons. In addition, it is the youngest state on average. Furthermore, it has a higher percentage of married people. In addition, much of Utah is a desert. Pennsylvania and Utah are also different politically. Utah nearly always votes for Republicans in state-wide elections. 
  3. Alaska is far colder than Pennsylvania. It is also far less densely populated and less developed. Alaska’s Native American population is significantly higher than Pennsylvania’s as well. While the over 90% of the state’s land has cell phone coverage, an extremely low percentage of Alaska’s land has coverage.
  4. Wyoming‘s infrastructure is quite different from Pennsylvania’s. The state uses far more water and electricity per capita. It also has a much lower density of roads and railroads. A higher percentage of people are married in Wyoming as well. In addition, Wyoming also has no income tax. Moreover, Wyoming has a lower percentage of forested land. It also has a drier and colder average climate.
  5. Nevada has a much higher percentage of Latinos than Pennsylvania. Like Utah, it is mostly desert and is far less densely populated. Furthermore, it is not as wealthy and its people are not as well educated. Still, one thing they have in common is that they both often vote for Democrats, although Republicans have a strong presence in both states as well.

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Pennsylvania is like if Ohio was more like New York

According to the Index, Ohio is the most similar state to Pennsylvania. However Pennsylvania’s geography is much more like New York than Ohio. These states are more mountainous and more densely forested than Ohio. In addition, most of the water in Pennsylvania and New York flows into the Atlantic Ocean, unlike Ohio. In addition, both states were part of the original 13 colonies. Furthermore, people in Ohio tend to be more interested in football and country music than people in Pennsylvania and New York.

Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Pennsylvania

All data accurate as of 2020.

graph of similar states to pennsylvania

State Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Michigan
Most Similar Culture: Ohio
Most Similar Government: Ohio
Most Similar Infrastructure: Ohio
Most Similar Geography: New York

Least Similar Demographics: Utah
Least Similar Culture: Hawaii
Least Similar Government: South Carolina
Least Similar Infrastructure: Wyoming
Least Similar Geography: Arizona

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