Hawaii Is Most Inclusive State as Louisiana Ranks Last: Study

A new study released Tuesday identified Hawaii as the most inclusive state in the U.S. while Louisiana ranked last.

Published by UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI), the 2021 survey placed Hawaii at the top of the list for the fourth year in a row. Hawaii has been listed among the most inclusive states every year since the institute began publishing its annual report in 2016.

Nevada placed second on the institute's 2021 list, followed by Rhode Island. Louisiana ranked 50th for inclusivity, with Wyoming, South Dakota and Mississippi also taking spots near the bottom of the list. Louisiana, South Dakota and Mississippi "consistently rank poorly" in OBI's annual reports while Hawaii, Nevada and Rhode Island are often near the top of the list, researchers noted.

Hawaii inclusivity study
Hawaii has been ranked the most inclusive state in the country for the fourth year in a row, a new study by UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute found. Here, a general view shows Waikiki and Honolulu, Hawaii, from the Diamond Head crater on February 20. DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

The institute's researchers said the survey's overall rankings take into account inclusivity for race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. Variables impacting each state's scores included exposure to violence, representation in politics, income inequality, incarceration, immigration and laws targeting discrimination.

In addition to ranking first in the U.S. for inclusivity overall, Hawaii also placed first for race, religion and disability inclusivity. The state ranked ninth in the U.S. for gender inclusivity, 15th for LGBTQ inclusivity and 11th for inclusivity across the general state population.

OBI Assistant Director Stephen Menendian said of Hawaii's top spot on the 2021 list in a Tuesday news release that the state is a place "where race and difference are recognized and respected in a far more nuanced and frankly inclusive way than is typical of the mainland."

Rhode Island, which placed third overall, topped the list for gender inclusivity and was in the top 10 for all other variables except race, where the state scored 47th. Nevada topped the LGBTQ inclusivity list and ranked in the top 20 for all other variables except the general population, for which the state came in 39th.

Louisiana came in at the bottom of the list for inclusivity in religion and across the general state population. It ranked 33rd for race inclusivity, 19th for disability inclusivity and was in the bottom 10 for gender and LGBTQ inclusivity.

The study also assessed inclusivity on a global scale. Sweden topped the list as the most inclusive country, and Yemen came in last. The U.S. placed near the middle of the list at 72nd, a ranking researchers said was "per usual" as it gathered "a mix of good and poor rankings" across inclusivity variables.

The study comes as several states across the U.S. are considering legislation that opponents say target minority groups, including book bans and restrictions on how race and sexual orientation can be taught in schools. Those legislative efforts aren't reflected in OBI's 2021 study results, which instead "reflect the effects of past policies, rather than when a policy was passed or enacted," the institute's press release said. Such new policies "may take months or years to be reflected in the data," it added.

Newsweek reached out to the UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute for comment.