It was suggested that I continually update the Shaw Index. I’m only a few weeks from my first attempt, but have found several ways to improve it since then.
Obviously, nine decimal places was overkill. I have also noticed that many other “indices” in the world are on a 100 point scale. I adjusted accordingly.
There are five indices used to compute the Shaw Index, each weighted equally, so that it ends up as a simple average.
The original three that were used were the Brewery Index, Democratic Advantage Index, and the Religious Index. Two additional indices added are the Bicycle Index and the Well-Being Index.
The Brewery Index is the most complicated. The original one I used was based only on breweries per capita. The revised one is based on total number of breweries in a state, breweries per capita, and breweries per 100,000 square miles. I created a 100 point scale index for each of these three measures.
After collecting data on the population and square mileage of each state, I then calculated a Brewery Index as a function of these values. It was created so that if a state has a large population and large land mass, then more weight was placed in the total number of breweries (California, for example). If the state was extremely large in land mass but had a much smaller population, then more weight was placed on the breweries per capita index (Alaska, for example). If a state has a large population and a smaller land mass, more weight was placed in the breweries per 100,000 square miles index (Massachusettes, for example). The smaller a state is both population and land mass wise, the more equally the weight is spread among both per capita and per 100,000 square miles, and less on the total number.
In doing this, California jumped up to number 2 on the Brew Index scale which seemed more appropriate than 19th. Vermont remains number 1, while Mississippi is dead last.
The Religious Index stayed the same, but was converted to a 100 point scale. Using the State of the States
, that Gallup produces regularly, I took the percentage of individuals in a state that claim to be Nonreligious (meaning that religion is not an important part of their lives, and they seldom or never attend services), and subtracted the percentage of individuals in state that claim to be Very Religious (meaning that religion is a very important part of their lives, and they attend services every week or almost every week). This provided a raw score that I converted to a 0-100 point scale. Vermont was number 1 with 100 points, while Mississippi was number 50 with 0 points.
The Democratic Advantage stayed the same, but was converted to a 100 point scale. Using the same State of the States that Gallup produces, I took the Democratic Advantage score that they provided and converted it to a 0-100 point scale. Massachusetts is number 1 on this scale with 100 points. Utah is number 50 with 0 points.
The Bike Index just used the bike points that the Bike League published directly. Washington was number 1 with 66.8 and Alabama was number 50 with 17.4 points.
The Well-Being Index, which didn’t have much variation if used directly, was calculated using rankings instead. Alaska, which was ranked 1 on the list, scored 100 points for this index. West Virginia, which was ranked 50th on the list, scored a default of 2 points.
Averaging these five indices produced my revised Shaw Index for each state. The top 10 states according to the Shaw Index are
- Vermont, 78
- California, 73
- Massachusetts, 71
- Maine, 64
- Colorado, 64
- Washington, 62
- Oregon, 61
- Connecticut, 60
- Hawaii, 59
- New Hampshire, 57
Wisconsin, a state I really do like, comes in 11th on this new scale. The worst 10 states according to the Shaw Index are
- Alabama, 16
- Mississippi, 18
- Kentucky, 23
- Arkansas, 24
- Tennessee, 25
- Oklahoma, 25
- Louisiana, 25
- West Virginia, 27
- Kansas, 28
- Indiana, 29
Missouri, the state in which I live (if you pronounced it “misery” just then you probably got a laugh), comes in number 11 on this list with 30 points.
Iowa, the state from which I came originally, and one that is dear to my heart, comes in right in the middle of this list. It is ranked 26th best or 24th worst, however you want to look at it, with 45 points.
My future project is to extend this to communities rather than entire states. There are several communities within states at the bottom of the list in which I don’t mind living and I believe would have a much higher Shaw Index.
Until then, enjoy this little joke I heard yesterday:
Q. What is the difference between a pick-pocket and a peeping Tom?
A. A pick-pocket will snatch your watch.