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BERKELEY: Hawaii kept its streak going by placing 1st for the sixth consecutive year as most inclusive state in the country, according to the latest Inclusiveness Index produced annually by the Othering & Belonging Institute.

Maryland and Vermont rounded out the podium by taking 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the latest study published Wednesday. OBI began publishing the Inclusiveness Index in 2016 to rank US states and countries by their levels of inclusion using a number of indicators.

The results of this year's US state rankings are similar to past years, where some states may gain or drop a couple positions, but for most part have remained in the same category since OBI launched this project.

Louisiana is at the bottom of the rankings for the third consecutive year in the latest index, followed by Mississippi and Alabama, two other consistently poor performers.

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

For the first time since OBI launched the Index, it now also includes an indicator for a country's response to the climate crisis by considering its change in greenhouse gas emissions, including land use, land-use change, and forestry. This measure applies only to the global rankings.

The global rankings also include refugee and immigration policies. The more welcoming the country is in terms of openness to refugees and immigrants, the better its ranking is.

Now in its eighth year of publication, the Inclusiveness Index recently moved from its original PDF format to an interactive table which allows users to switch between states and countries and sort them based on any of the measures considered in the rankings. 

There is also a filter to select between years, and reports from 2016 through 2020 are still available on the page as PDFs. 

Globally, the 2023 rankings are also comparable to past years, with New Zealand coming in first place for the second consecutive year. Portugal recorded its best showing yet by coming in second place (up from 5th place in 2022), followed by the Netherlands in third place.

The Netherlands had dominated the global rankings list since its launch until Sweden took over the top spot in 2020. Sweden ranked 7th in this year's index.

New Zealand and Northern European countries known for their strong social safety net programs regularly rank high in the Index.

This year's rankings placed Iran at the bottom of the global list. Yemen, which has been devastated by the Saudi-led invasion which began in 2015, followed by the Comoros Islands, a former French colony located off the southeastern coast of Africa.

The United States, as with all past rankings, placed midpack, but several positions worse than in the past two studies (77th place this year, versus 72nd place in the 2022 and 2021 rankings). The US typically performs well on inclusion in terms of disability, LGBTQ, and religion, but ranks poorly on race, gender and incarceration rates.

The number of countries included in the Inclusiveness Index changes each year based on availability of data. This year's index included 129 countries, seven less than the previous year.

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