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 Rhode Island
The top five states most similar to Rhode Island are all located in BosWash, a highly urbanized swath of land on the Atlantic Coast between Boston and Washington DC, which is centered around New York. These areas tend to have more immigrants and are racially diverse. Mass transit is used more often in these states as well. They are also some of the areas where the Democratic Party is the strongest.
- Massachusetts is to the north and east of Rhode Island. It is another state with a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean. It has the second highest percentage of Catholics, behind Rhode Island. The states are politically similar. Both states are dominated by the Democratic Party, but have recently had Republican governors. The states have nearly the same policies in regards to guns, abortion, and civil rights. Their demographics are also extremely similar. Both states have many immigrants from Portugal. However, Massachusetts is more educated and less religious.
- Connecticut is to the west of Rhode Island. Their geography is nearly identical, although Connecticut is more mountainous. Their infrastructure is also similar. Unlike other states on this list, they both do not have subways systems and their people rely less on mass transit. Due to their close proximity to the ocean, both states have navy and coast guard bases. However, Connecticut is generally more wealthy and has a higher percentage of millionaires.
- New Jersey is the most densely populated state, while Rhode Island is second. Most people in both states are within an hour’s drive of the beach. 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.
- New York is yet another Atlantic Coast state on this list. Not only are the incomes of people in New York and Rhode Island are about the same, but also their poverty rate and percentage of millionaires. Both states are dominated by the Democrats and have high union membership rates. Still, Rhode Island also has more restrictions on abortion and less restrictions on guns. Rhode Island is also a smaller state that has a higher percentage of urban area and it is not as mountainous. In addition, unlike New York, few people use mass transit and a higher percentage of people have cars.
- New Hampshire is yet another state in New England that borders the Atlantic Ocean on this list. However, Rhode Island is also more densely populated and less mountainous. It also has far more coastline. Still, relatively few people in these states have guns or hunting licenses. In addition, these states often vote for the same presidential primary candidates. Both states also require a photo ID to vote.
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Top 5 States Least Similar to Rhode Island
The five least similar states to Rhode Island are all located to the west of the Mississippi River. In addition, they are all landlocked states that are far less densely populated than Rhode Island. They get less rainfall and are less densely forested as well. In addition, the Republican Party tends to be much more popular in these states. While mining and the extraction of fossil fuels is an important part of the economy in these states, Rhode Island has few mines.
- Wyoming is the least densely populated state, after Alaska. Its infrastructure is quite different from Rhode Island. Almost all of its electricity is created by coal power plants, while Rhode Island mostly uses natural gas. It also uses the most electricity per capita of any state. It has a far lower density of roads. While Rhode Island’s culture is tied to the ocean, Wyoming is landlocked. In addition, Wyoming also has many gun owners and hunters, unlike Rhode Island.
- Utah has a majority Mormon population and is more religious than Rhode Island. Utah’s population is also one of the least diverse in the country. Furthermore, Utah has the highest percentage of married people, in contrast to Rhode Island. Like Wyoming, it is landlocked and its climate is much drier. Another difference is that Utah’s population has a lower average age.
- Idaho is one of the most conservative states. It has more restrictions on abortion and less restrictions on firearms than Rhode Island. The state has the second highest percentage of Mormons, behind only Utah. In contrast to Rhode Island, very few Democrats hold elected office there. It also is more rural and far less developed than Rhode Island. It has some of the slowest internet speeds in the United States and has few physicians per capita.
- Oklahoma is yet another conservative, landlocked state on this list. It was one of the last states to gain statehood, in contrast to Rhode Island. Although, both states have a similar racial makeup, the ancestries of their people are quite different. Oklahoma has more people that identify themselves as having German and American ancestry. It also has a much milder climate and a far greater percentage of farmland. There are also few Catholics there.
- Texas is the second largest state, while Rhode Island is the smallest state by area. In addition, Texas has a much higher percentage of immigrants from Mexico. Like Oklahoma, its climate is a lot warmer than Rhode Island’s. In addition, the economy of Texas relies more on the oil and gas industry. However, since Texas and Rhode Island are both states that have many Catholics, it is lower on this list.
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Rhode Island is like if Massachusetts was more like Delaware
Massachusetts is the most similar state to Rhode Island according to the Index. However, Delaware has some of the characteristics of Rhode Island that Massachusetts lacks. Rhode Island and Delaware have a far lower percentage of college graduates. Their people also tend not to be as wealthy. Furthermore, Massachusetts is less religious than these states. Furthermore, there are no buildings taller than 150 meters in Rhode Island and Delaware. They are also less mountainous and more of their land is close to the coast.
Full Ranking of States Most Similar to Rhode Island
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Massachusetts
Most Similar Culture: Connecticut
Most Similar Government: Massachusetts
Most Similar Infrastructure: Connecticut
Most Similar Geography: Massachusetts
Least Similar Demographics: Utah
Least Similar Culture: Arkansas
Least Similar Government: Idaho
Least Similar Infrastructure: Wyoming
Least Similar Geography: Alaska