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BERKELEY: Hawaii ranked as the most inclusive state in the country for the fifth straight year, according to the latest study from UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute released Thursday, followed by Nevada and Maryland.

Hawaii has consistently ranked among the top four most inclusive states since OBI began publishing its index in 2016 due to the ways racial and other identity-based differences are recognized and respected.

The Index examines inclusivity in terms of race, religion, gender (sex), sexual orientation, disability, and the general population using several measures. Those include outgroup violence; political representation; income inequality; anti-discrimination laws; rates of incarceration; and immigration/asylum policies.

It is unique from other global rankings in that it takes a holistic, multi-dimensional view of inclusion rather than just measuring a singular aspect of identity, like race or gender.

It also differs from other well-known global ranking systems by focusing on the inclusivity and marginality for specific, marginalized groups rather than offering an assessment of the well-being of a state or country's general population.

Now in its seventh year, the Inclusiveness Index recently began featuring an interactive table which allows users to switch between states and countries and sort them based on any of the six social groupings considered in rankings. 

There is also a filter to select between years, however only the years 2022 and 2021 are currently available. It will soon be updated to include data for previous years. But past reports from 2016 through 2020 are still available on the page as PDFs. 

Nevada and Maryland also consistently score high in the rankings, along with Rhode Island, which took the fourth spot in this year's study.

On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana ranked least inclusive (50th place) for the second consecutive year, followed by Mississippi and Alabama. These three states also consistently rank poorly in the annual index.

Overall there were no major shifts from last year's index. Only Montana saw a large jump from the medium-low category of inclusion to the medium-high category, and West Virginia dropped from the medium category to the low category.

The index rankings reflect the effects of past policies, rather than when a policy was passed or enacted. This means it may take months or years for a policy change to be reflected in the data.

Globally, New Zealand and Sweden swapped places from last year to take the first and second spots on the list of most inclusive countries, respectively, with Norway holding on to third place for the second straight year.

This was the first year New Zealand came in first place, although it regularly scores very high along with Northern European countries known for their strong social safety net programs.

Unlike the domestic state rankings, the indicators used to rank the global index include additional ones to take into account refugee and immigration policies. The more welcoming the country is in terms of openness to refugees and immigrants, the better its ranking is.

The three least inclusive countries in 2022 remain unchanged from last year: Yemen, Iraq, and Angola.

For the second straight year the United States ranked 72nd in terms of inclusion (about mid-pack), with a mix of good and poor rankings. The US performs well on inclusion in terms of disability, LGBTQ, and religion, but ranks poorly on race and gender.

The number of countries included in our index changes each year based on availability of data. This year's index included 136 countries, three more than the previous year.

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