The Jersey Divide Revealed

Researchers at MIT probably have little firsthand knowledge of the hypothetical divide between “North” and “South” Jersey, but the mobile phone data they studied recently illustrates a clear pattern of phone activity that cuts the state nearly in half.

According to the research, people in the northern part of the state tend to keep to themselves (on the phone, at least), and people in the southern part of the state are similarly insular. Calls from the north to the south, or the south to the north, occur with far less frequency than north-to-north and south-to-south connectivity.

The study, called the Connected States of America, compartmentalizes the country into discrete interactive networks. Some states, like Georgia and Alabama, are shown to be “sister states,” where there is significant interaction across state lines. In other states, the majority of the phone activity is concentrated around the largest metropolitan areas. In California and New Jersey, that partitions each state at their approximate midway points.

Consequently, people in northern New Jersey are more likely to chat with their neighbors in New York and parts of Connecticut than with fellow New Jerseyans in the southern part of the state. And people in the southern part of the state are more connected with folks in Pennsylvania and Delaware. These social connections define specific and isolated communities existing almost apart from the larger single state concept implicit in our established state borders.

So, maybe there’s more to this whole North vs. South argument than Yankees vs. Phillies, Eagles vs. Giants and pizza vs. cheese steaks.

I’m pleased to represent an exception to the rule. Since my parents retired from Morris County to Ocean County, I’ve been joyfully bucking the trends documented in the MIT research. If I don’t make those weekly phone calls, an illusory North/South divide in the state won’t protect me from the wrath I’d surely incur for my unpardonable dereliction of filial duty.

Click here to view some cool visual aids related to the study.

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