Kentucky is among the six least diverse states in the country, a new study shows.
Personal finance website WalletHub, which is known for its data-based studies on economic and other topics, compared states’ socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household and religious diversity by using data on household income, educational attainment, birthplaces, languages spoken, racial and ethnic origins, industry, occupations, marital status, generations, household size and religions. The primary source of data was the U.S. Census Bureau.
Kentucky ranked 45th among the 50 states and got the worst marks for income, language, birthplace and racial and ethnic diversity. The only states that were less diverse than Kentucky were Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and West Virginia.
For comparison, the most diverse states were California, Texas, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and New Mexico.
Kentucky’s ranking among the least diverse states hasn’t changed in seven years WalletHub reviewed.
In May, WalletHub analyzed the diversity of 501 U.S. cities and Lexington ranked 177th with Louisville 185th. Of the rankings for other cities in the list, Bowling Green was 280; Elizabethtown, 319; Hopkinsville, 335; Florence, 336; Covington, 389; Owensboro 403; Georgetown 441; and Richmond 482.
Being less diverse can lead to or underlie many problems and impede economic growth.
“The United States continues to exhibit high levels of racial segregation across the country,” said University of Massachusetts sociology professor Adrian Cruz, one of WalletHub’s experts on the study. “We remain a society in which our schools, neighborhoods and churches remain in separate ‘racial bubbles.’”
University of Illinois at Chicago associate professor Alexandra Filindra said it’s up to community and state leaders to set the tone for acceptance and inclusion. “When such leaders promote tolerance and integration, mass opinion follows. When leaders promote anger, threats, and adversarial relationships with newcomers, the people listen to that, too, and respond accordingly.”