It’s probably a good thing that the United States is, well, united. Though the average size of a US state (78,000 square miles) is larger than a huge chunk of European countries, the individual pearls of our union might not fare so well out on their own. Just look at the former U.S.S.R.
But what if they were? Which states would prosper and which would stumble without the others lifting them up?
To find out who would fare the best, we created as robust a rubric as we could, taking into account GDP, GDP per capita, location, likeability, food production, human development index, and history of independence. After assigning a weight to each of these criteria, we took each state’s raw score. One overachieving kid in the class broke the curve, so we re-curved the A+ based on the second best.
So, where is your state on this list?
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Independence Grade: F It might be America's most religious state, but it ranks last in health, education, and income. Clearly, ole Miss is in bad shape already, and its solo career would be worse than Art Garfunkel's. But from the Confederate iconography in their flag, they might be fool enough to try it.
Independence Grade: F Despite having one of the longest waterways in America, they can't seem to figure out how to use it for an economic advantage. The South probably won't rise again.
Independence Grade: F Who wants to see how long a state can survive on Bourbon and chicken?
Independence Grade: F Located in the heart of tornado alley, Oklahoma's location is its downfall. That and a stale economy.
Independence Grade: B NC is the nation's leader in tobacco and textile production, making them a very profitable independent country that could flourish so long as they didn't dip too much into their tobacco reserves.
17. Rhode Island
Independence Grade: B Despite being the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island has a killer seaside location for launching ships and/or catching rays.
Independence Grade: B Alaska has it all: land mass, location, and an average temperature akin to a warm night in Russia. Not to mention a ton of oil.
Independence Grade: B They've got the Air Force academy tucked in Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountains to thwart incoming invaders. Boulder would become America's Amsterdam, except the bikes would be carbon and you would be a mile higher.
Independence Grade: B Did you know the 4.2 million square foot Mall of America can fit 32 Boeing 747s? If it was filled to capacity, it would be Minnesota's third largest city. They've got the mall game on lock down. If they upped their sales tax game, they'd rake it in.
13. New Hampshire
Independence Grade: B FACT: New Hampshire was the first colony to declare its independence from the Crown, making it a trailblazer in freedom. With a motto "Live Free Or Die," they might take things a bit too far.
Independence Grade: B Pittsburgh is home to eight Fortune 500 companies and brings in over $600 billion annually, WTF does your state do?
Independence Grade: B+ More presidents have been born in Virginia than any other state in the nation, this place breeds freedom.
Independence Grade: B+ As the birthplace of religious freedom and one of the highest household earnings in the country, we've got some well-funded independent thinkers.
Independence Grade: B+ First state? Who the hell cares—the high population coupled with a high GDP percentage, they've got the brains and the manpower.
Independence Grade: A- With over 52 percent of the state covered by forest, Washington has nature on its side as well as a prime Pacific Coast location. Also, weed.
Independence Grade: A- Vermont may seem out of place so high on the list, considering residents are typically swamped smokin' weed and eating ice cream, but they produce a serious amount of hydro-electric power and crush the whole agriculture game. They also enjoyed 13 years of independence and have a movement in progress trying to bring it back.
Independence Grade: A- Honestly, everything's just bigger. Plus, they had some experience being on their own before.
5. New Jersey
Independence Grade: A Despite a severe likability rating, Jersey has the capital, strong shipping, and manufacturing industry to keep a country going. Bruce Springsteen would look great on their coins.
Independence Grade: A Connecticut has the money, the resources, an aerospace & defense company, and every resident looks like they were the bad guy in The Karate Kid. Plus—if they were independent—they would have untraceable banks like Switzerland, making it a haven for dirty money.
Independence Grade: A+ Solid public education and government, Taxachussetts has some serious Euro-vibes. They'll be fine on their own, and they have a history of demanding independence.
2. New York
Independence Grade: A+ It's not going out on a limb to comment on New York's ability to come out on top at all times...not counting that brief period in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The money's there, the jobs are there, and they have the port and the rest of the state to run to if Manhattan goes under water.
Independence Grade: A+++ I mean, who's surprised here? California's got those stats on their side: GDP, location, food production, and they're "hella" likable. Plus, they were never part of the evil British empire to begin with.
Ethan Wolff-Mann and Jeremy Glass are editors at Supercompressor and have put in a request to be buried together, just like that guy who was buried with his horse.