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Why are America’s oldest and youngest states 13 years apart?

Economics and religion help to explain the gap.
A map of the united states showing the number of abortions.
The median age per state varies from a low of 32 years in Utah to a high of 45 years in Maine. (Credit: Visual Capitalist)

Maine has the highest median age of any state in the country: 45 years. That’s two years more than retiree magnet Florida and fully 13 years more than Utah, the state with the lowest median age (32 years).

Why the big gap? Economics and religion. In Maine, jobs are fewer and wages are lower, so young people tend to leave in search of opportunities elsewhere. Mormonism is Utah’s dominant religious tradition, which prizes community — and large families. That makes Utah an outlier within the U.S., but very close to the global median age of 31 years.

The median age infographic.
Most (33) states fall in the 38 to 40 bracket (Credit: Visual Capitalist)

What all states share, though, is that their median age is creeping upward. North Dakota used to be an exception. Its median age dropped from 37 in 2010 to 35.2 in 2018, making it the only state that got younger over that period. But even the continued influx of a relatively younger workforce, attracted by the state’s thriving energy industry, hasn’t been able to maintain the trend: By 2022, the median age had crept up again to 36 years.

(“Median,” by the way, refers to the middle of a range of values, while “average” is the sum of all values divided by their number. The median is seen as a more robust measure of distribution because the average is often skewed by outliers with extreme values.)

Map found here at Visual Capitalist.

Strange Maps #1232

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