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Berkeley Study: Hawaiʻi Most Inclusive State In the Country

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A new study out of UC Berkeley ranks Hawaiʻi the top state in the country when it comes to inclusiveness. Researchers looked at factors like income inequality, political representation, and reported hate crimes to determine just how each state treats vulnerable and marginalized groups. 

Inclusivity is not an easy concept to measure. But for researchers at UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, the annual inclusiveness index highlights the condition of marginalized groups and sparks discussion over how to make improvements.

“This inclusiveness index serves as a diagnostic tool to help us identify places and societies that are improving in terms of developing a more inclusive policy and set of institutions,” says Elsadig Elsheikh, Director of the Institute’s Global Justice Program and co-author of the 2020 Inclusiveness Index.

“One of the challenges in measuring inclusivity is that it is difficult to disentangle policies and inclusivity from the investment and resources available to marginalized communities,” says Elsheikh, “We try to overcome this challenge by focusing on policies, laws and outcomes rather than government expenditures or investments.”

This is Hawaiʻi’s third year in a row at the top of the Inclusiveness Index. Researchers analyzed 29 different indicators of inclusivity, including income inequality, reported hate crimes, political representation, and more.

Hawaiʻi scored highest in its treatment of groups based on disability, religion, and race and ethnicity. But the state lagged in its treatment of incarcerated individuals and those with different sexual orientations.

“So maybe the important question for the state of Hawaiʻi to think about a way to protect those vulnerable and marginalized groups,” says Elsheikh, “If you do something good in one dimension, most likely you will do well in other dimensions. Hawaiʻi has yet to use this as a diagnostic tool to see what we could do better, how we could improve it even farther.”

2020 Inclusiveness Index by HPR News on Scribd

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at
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