What would the U.S. be like if it didn't have the South?
An (intentionally provocative) article in Politico Magazine argued that the South "skews America" by dragging down our rankings in the world when it comes to things like violence and social mobility.
"Minus the South, the rest of the U.S. probably would be more like Canada or Australia or Britain or New Zealand — more secular, more socially liberal, more moderate in the tone of its politics and somewhat more generous in social policy," writes Michael Lind. "And it would not be as centralized as France or as social democratic as Sweden."
But at what cost? Wouldn't we lose plenty of things by lopping off all those states?
To calculate just how much various statistics would change if the U.S. didn't include the South, I looked at data for the 34 states that aren't in the U.S. Census Bureau's South region from lists and studies, and weighted it according to population when necessary. (Census's definition includes Delaware, Maryland and Virginia in the South, though some others do not.)
What I found was without the South, the U.S. would have higher literacy, lower violence and lower obesity -- in some cases very slightly -- but we'd also be less racially diverse, lose more than half of our biggest businesses, forfeit miles of beaches and we wouldn't be as good at football (especially college). Although the South does drag the country down in some categories, it's a diverse region that adds a lot to the country and is constantly changing.
Let us count the ways.
With the South: 10 top 10 BBQ restaurants, according to an analysis of TripAdvisor reviews
Without the South: 3 top 10 BBQ restaurants, according to an analysis of TripAdvisor reviews
Source: 2015 Tripadvisor data
With the South: 5,743 miles of general coastline (not including Alaska)
Without the South: 2,773 miles of general coastline (less than half)
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
With the South: 500 Fortune 500 companies
Without the South: 185 Fortune 500 companies (yes, 315 are on the South)
Source: 2015 Fortune 500 list
With the South: 10 NCAA football champions in the past 10 years
Without the South: 1 NCAA football champion in the past 10 years
With the South: 246 Republicans, 188 Democrats in the House
Without the South: 142 Democrats, 131 Republicans in the House
GDP per capita
With the South: $42,784
Without the South: $44,253
With the South: 66 percent of 4th graders reading below proficient levels
Without the South: 65 percent of 4th graders reading below proficient levels
With the South: 244 domestic Air Force, Army, Marines or Navy installations
Without the South: 134 domestic Air Force, Army, Marines or Navy installations
With the South: 33 percent of population considered obese
Without the South: 26 percent of population considered obese
Source: 2015 Gallup poll
With the South: 27.6 percent of Americans don't identify as "white alone"
Without the South: 26 percent of Americans don't identify as "white alone"
Source: 2010 Census
With the South: 23.5 percent of Americans don't identify as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu
Without the South: 26 percent of Americans don't identify as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu
With the South: 386.9 violent crimes per 100,000 people
Without the South: 365 violent crimes per 100,000 people