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 Utah
Utah is one of America’s most unique states, only Idaho is significantly similar to it. The biggest difference is that a majority of the population is Mormon. They have a unique culture, which also makes their state have extreme demographic differences from other states. The five most similar states are also landlocked and their climates are relatively dry. Four of the five border Utah.
- Idaho is just north of Utah. It has the highest percentage of Mormons outside of Utah, with around 20%. It also has the second highest percentage of married people. Scouting is quite popular in these states as well. Both states favor Republicans and have conservative policies. Still, it does not have strict voting ID laws and prohibits state workers from collective bargaining, unlike Idaho. The states are both mountainous and have similar plants. However, Utah has less rainfall and is warmer.
- Colorado is to the east of Utah. Like Idaho and Arizona, it is another extremely mountainous and scenic state, although it has more rainfall. One massive difference between Utah and Colorado is politics, since Colorado often favors the Democratic Party and is generally more liberal and wealthy. Still, both states lack gun restrictions. Their populations are also fairly similar, since they are mostly White, but have roughly the same percentage of Latinos and African Americans. Both states primarily use coal, but also natural gas to create electricity. They also have similar taxation methods.
- Wyoming‘s demographics are quite similar to Utah’s except that they have far less Mormons and more people with German ancestry. Both states have very few immigrants. However, there are some significant differences as well. While both states favor Republicans, they have many different laws. Utah has a ban on smoking in public and allows undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses. Utah also has much lower gun ownership and hunting license rates. Furthermore, Wyoming uses and creates much more electricity per capita.
- Arizona borders Utah to the south. Both states are tourist destinations since they have many national parks due to their array of mountains and canyons. However, Arizona is hotter and has less rainfall. Both states have large capital cities and relatively little population in rural areas. They also have some of the lowest union membership rates in the country. One big difference is that Arizona has a much bigger Latino population. Although the state favors Republicans, it has been steadily shifting to being a more moderate state due to the influx of immigrants. Another difference is all alcohol can be purchased in grocery stores, in stark contrast to Utah. Furthermore, marijuana is fully legal in Arizona.
- Nevada and Utah have a similar climate. They are two of the driest states in country. However, other than geography, they do not have a lot in common. Like Arizona, Nevada has a much bigger Latino population than Utah. Nevada’s laws are also significantly more liberal. While Utah does not even allow lotteries, Nevada is the most friendly state to gambling. It also has far less restrictions on alcohol and smoking in public places. Still, the average income of the people in both states is similar. In addition, they have similar rates of suicide and gun ownership.
Top 5 States Least Similar to Utah
The five least similar states to Utah are all located in the Northeast region of the United States. These states all border the Atlantic Ocean and are in the Eastern Time Zone. These states have few Mormons and a much higher percentage of Catholics than Utah. These states are also far more densely populated and their land is more forested. In addition, the people in these states heavily favor the Democratic Party, unlike in more conservative Utah.
- New Jersey‘s population is significantly more diverse than Utah’s. Furthermore, it has the densest population of any state. Its network of roads and railroads is denser and more congested. Moreover, most of the state is near the beach, in contrast to Utah, where most of its water does not even flow to the ocean. In addition, Utah does not have a lottery, while New Jersey has less restrictive gambling laws.
- Hawaii is a group of tropical islands, so its geography is significantly different from Utah. However, both states are fairly mountainous. Another big difference is that Hawaii has the highest percentage of people with Asian ancestry, since it has many Japanese and Filipinos. In addition, Hawaii has one of the highest rates of union membership in the country, while few people in Utah are part of unions. Still, they are not completely different as both states have low rates of smoking and also do not allow gambling or lotteries.
- Rhode Island has the highest Catholic population of any state and has few Mormons. Rhode Island is much more densely populated and far less mountainous. A large percentage of its land is urban and close to the coast. It also relies on natural gas to create electricity, while a majority of Utah’s electricity is created by coal power plants. Furthermore, few people in Utah have cable television, unlike Rhode Island.
- Massachusetts is one of the least religious states, in contrast to Utah. It has a higher percentage of LGBT people. It also has a much lower suicide rate than Utah. Its population is also more diverse, as it has many Chinese, French, and Portuguese speakers. It also allows all alcohol to be sold in grocery stores. One thing they do have in common is that they have relatively few people divorced people.
- New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. It is also friendly to unionization, in contrast to Utah. A large percentage of its people use regularly use mass transportation, so far fewer have cars. The national origins of its people is much different than Utah. New York’s White population is mostly Italian and Irish in origin. In contrast, Utah has more people with English ancestry.
Utah is like if Idaho was more like Colorado
Idaho is the most similar state to Utah, but the two states also have significant differences. Colorado is one state that has a few attributes of Utah that Idaho lacks. Colorado and Utah have a higher degree of urbanization and their people also have higher incomes on average. Both states have universities that a part of the Pac-10 Conference as well. In addition, Colorado and Utah have more laws protecting the civil rights of their citizens. They also have more favorable laws for immigrants than Idaho. Furthermore, both states ban smoking in most public places, unlike Idaho.
All data accurate as of 2020.