Most Americans Don’t Have Passports

In: Culture Maps

24 Feb 2011

Only 30 percent of Americans have passports. The differences by state are about what you would expect (because of income, proximity to border, and small-mindedness). None of the states are very high – New Jersey was the highest, with just under 46%. (via)

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15 Responses to Most Americans Don’t Have Passports

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George

February 24th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

“Small-mindedness”? Wow. That’s… what’s a good word for “glibly and pointlessly offensive”? Wisconsin and Oregon appear to be as “small-minded” as the Carolinas — or are they just farther from, I don’t know, the border with Newfoundland?

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Gabi

February 24th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

As a European (who has had a passport all of her adult life and has traveled 27 US states and 32 countries all over the world), I must report that less and less people over here who don’t travel outside the EU have a passport anymore. Since the Schengen agreement in 1985 which basically defined borderlessness within the EU and between the EU and a few non-member states, it’s simply not necessary anymore. A passport is most definitely a question of money, not only for getting the document itself (which is somewhere in the vicinity of $100 over here), but also for flight tickets and other overseas vacation expenses. Sadly, not everybody can afford international (or even inter-continental) travel.

That being said, the dark red areas on your map don’t necessarily depict ‘small mindedness’, but rather ‘small wallets’.

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Dustin

February 24th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

You’ll notice I listed three possible plausible explanations… all of which I think factor in.

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Vigilarus

February 24th, 2011 at 7:16 pm

But Dustin, you wrote “and small mindedness”, not “OR small-mindedness.”. Rather small minded of you, wasn’t it?

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Dustin

February 24th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I was being inclusive, not comprehensive – I’m sure there are other additional reasons as well. What, you think small-mindedness is not a factor in people not traveling abroad? There are people I know who never leave the state they were born in, let alone leave the country. For a country that prides itself on exploration and knowledge, we are still largely a bunch of homebodies.

The more important question, in my mind, is why does Jersey leads the country?

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Gabi

February 25th, 2011 at 6:49 am

‘The more important question, in my mind, is why does Jersey leads the country?’

Because it’s where all the Wall Street brokers live.

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Keaton

February 25th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Or maybe it’s because nobody wants to stay in Jersey longer than necessary

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Mike

February 26th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I think that 70% of Americans who have never left their borders would be surprised to find how welcome they’d be in many countries, and how much they would enjoy the experience.

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Matt SF

February 26th, 2011 at 11:28 pm

And the states with the lowest passport rates are probably among the leaders in the “US is the best country in the world” proclamation.

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Nesting Ranch

February 28th, 2011 at 10:52 am

This is proof the reputation everyone is trying to get out of NJ is false, we’re just all very much the jet-set crowd.

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Dayna

February 28th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I think the NJ statistic is a culmination of loads of factors. Firstly, the state has always been known for a knowledge economy, exporting talent over state lines to NYC (and secondarily to Phila). This allows most Jerseyites to cash-in on the relative ‘currency exchange’ or economies of scale— higher pay and less goods and RE costs equal more disposable income. Additionally, NJ has had a large industrials and pharmaceuticals industry since forever, which is part of what’s contributed to NJ’s bad smelling rep (predominantly untrue, except Elizabeth).. So both those workers, many of whom are salesman, plus the Metropolis workers, must travel for work. Another factor is that NJ sits in close proximity to loads of international airports making travel more readily accessible. Which has also lead to huge swaths of immigrant populations in different parts of Jersey, particularly central NJ (eg. Indian, DR, Mexican), they may not be natural born, but many of them have gotten citizenship, and thus. American passports.

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Dayna

February 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

That and many of us are just plain, well— awesome. ;o)

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Robert

March 2nd, 2011 at 11:36 pm

As an American who lived abroad for nearly 10 years, I find such sweeping generalizations about culture unpleasant. I had a friend in France who had never even left the valley we lived in until he was into his 40s. This wasn’t uncommon in the Alps. Ease and cost are, as you point out, factors, but so is simple lack of wanderlust.

Having myself travelled about 40 states, to dozens of countries, (and lived in 3), I cannot say that in my experience, humanity, at core really that different from place to place. We are able capable of good and bad, love and hate, greed and selflessness.

Some places are better to live than others, but they all have limitations and wonderful elements. You will also find interesting, engaging souls everywhere (even the dreaded Red States). I learned that a few years ago when I found out one of the sweetest, most honest and charming clients I had thought Rush Limbaugh was the Word of Truth. You will also find awful people everywhere, even exotic locals like Paris and Jakarta.

For this reason, I would love to see less nation-bashing (including one’s own), and more focus on finding the good in cultures (even one’s one). Though perhaps I’m idealistic.

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Rachel

March 4th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

@Gabi is dead on! I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and on my own dime. But that’s what it is: an opportunity. In Europe, and many other parts of the world, countries are closer and easier to get to. People have longer vacations in Europe than in the US. There’s also a larger middle class.
Many people in this country would love to travel outside it, and would, if they had the money to afford it. Shame on you for being so small-minded.

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LW

March 14th, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Interesting choice of colors. Are you implicitly trying to make a connection w/ the republican vs democratic breakdown in the US? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_states_and_blue_states Holders of passports seems correlated to some degree with being a democrat at first glance, although your choice of thresholds for coloring in this chart is important in seeing that stand out.

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