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Is Your State "Loose'' or "Tight"?

The Pacific Northwest has the loosest states in the Union while the Southeast-Central region has the tightest, according to a new study. 

| BY Kent McDill

There are American communities which pride themselves on their adherence to rules and regulations, while other communities pride themselves on their relative freedoms.

Now, thanks to research, we can identify which is which.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has released a study from the University of Maryland that lists the states of the union based on whether they are “tight’’ or “loose”’. The parameters of the study were, among others, the legality of corporal punishment in schools, the general severity of legal sentences, access to alcohol, the possibility of civil unions, level of religiosity, and the percent of the population that is foreign (which marked tolerance toward ethnic and racial differences).

Following the statistical identification, the researchers then took it one step further to determine why some states are tighter and others looser. They pointed to ecological threats like natural disasters or lack of natural resources, as well as historical threats such as territorial disputes.

The tight states, for instance, had more historical deaths due to heat, storms, flooding and lightning. The psychological effects of life in the Deep South and the difficulty dealing with the turn of events surrounding the end of the Civil War created a tighter society in those states, the researchers state.

The authors also found that there were more happy people in the looser states than in the tight ones.

As the study’s authors, Jesse R. Harrington and Michele J. Gelfand from the University of Maryland, stated: “tightness-looseness can account for the divergence of substance abuse and discrimination rates between states such as Hawaii and Ohio, reliably predicts the psychological differences between Colorado and Alabama, helps to explain the contrasts in creativity and social organization between Vermont and North Dakota and provides some understanding concerning the dissimilarity in insularity and resistance toward immigration between Arizona and New York.”

The study used information from the Census Bureau, Gallup, the General Social Survey and DDB Lifestyle Survey.

The five tightest states, in order, were Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The five loosest states were California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Maine.

By region, the tightest was the East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi Tennessee), and the loosest was the Pacific (Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington).


About the Author

Kent McDill


Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.