Delaware deserves higher ranking in friendliest-states survey

A ranking of the friendliest states recently placed Delaware a disappointing 44th out of 50 states. Conducted by the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), the survey had ostensibly nothing to do with gun laws. Rather, it relied on comments from online visitors to the organization’s web site. In any case, Delaware certainly deserves a higher ranking in this area.

According to the USCCA’s rankings, the top 10 states in friendliness are Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Washington, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia. Concentrating on Delaware, one certainly knows that it is a leader in tourism, surely a customer-service based industry. Further, Delaware has and continues to host large assemblages of people for sporting and musical events, garnering positive comments for neighborly, amicable behavior.

If a series of friendship-measuring variables are added to the USCCA’s list, one result is that Delaware would join the list and be placed ahead of North Carolina and Tennessee. For example, consider the following factors related to friendliness: political party consistency between governor and state legislature; population increase over the last century; diversity rank by state; mental health support rank by state; treatment of disabled by state; support for elderly by state; life expectancy by state; ranking of public schools by state; top ten states in violent crime; states with/without capital punishment by state.

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff

Applying the aforementioned indices, it is evident that Colorado and Washington place highest on the most number of pro-friendly features.

For example, Colorado ranks No. 1 in disabled services and No. 8 in life expectancy among all the states. Currently a Democratic-controlled state, it has enjoyed a population increase over the last century and is presently forbidding imposition of capital punishment.

Similarly, Washington places No. 3 in disabled services and is tied for No. 8 with Colorado in life expectancy among all states, with the other factors the same as Colorado. Though Oregon has increased its population, has a Democratic governor and state legislature, and is enforcing a moratorium on the death penalty, it did not otherwise rank in the top ten of any factor. However, it is interesting to note that all three states above are the only ones on the USCCA list to permit recreational use of marijuana.

There is no question that Minnesota has justified its friendliness rank if the above criteria are employed, as it places second in disabled services, fourth in life expectancy, and sixth in public schools quality among all states, though it has divided party government and has lost population over the last century. Other top-10 finishes by the USCCA states on the additional factors include Iowa placing third in mental health quality; Texas taking second in diversity, and Virginia ranking fourth in quality of public schools.

Delaware ranks surprisingly well on a number of the aforementioned indices. While slightly increasing it population rank over the last century, Delaware achieved a top-10 ranking among states on mental health facilities, placing seventh. While the state just missed the top 10 among states in quality of public schools, Delaware did rank first among all states in preventing bullying.

To add to the positive evidence, a recent survey of top tax-friendly states by Kiplinger placed Delaware seventh, whereas none of the USCCA’s states made that list.

Conversely, despite the current prohibition on capital punishment, Delaware ranks No. 14 on violent crime and places a mediocre No. 28 on life expectancy. Still, Delaware’s performance on the measures identified here surpasses North Carolina, which does not place in any top 10 rating except treatment of the elderly, where it ranks as fifth worst among all states.

Ditto in comparing Delaware to Tennessee, where the latter state demonstrated no growth in population and whose No. 7 ranking in treatment of the elderly is offset by its No. 4 standing among states on serious crime.

Native and long-term residents of Delaware know something that the USCCA does not: wherever you go in Delaware and however you measure friendliness, the people are more genial than grouchy, more social than silent. As always, practicing the Golden Rule is the best advice to make and keep compatriots.

Dr. Samuel B. Hoff is George Washington Distinguished Professor for the Delaware Society of the Cincinnati and retired professor of history and political science at Delaware State University. He and his wife have resided in Delaware since 1989.

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