Dollar Bills and US State Borders

A number of proposals (not all serious) have been floating around lately to redraw the borders of the US. According to this list nearly every US state has groups wanting to partition it somehow. One idea was fifty states with equal population. Another is to redraw borders based on the actual communities that exist–in this case measured by how dollar bills travel:


Dirk Brockmann, a physicist, used information about dollar bill travel patterns from to track the movement of currency. He then used that information to re-allocate the US into states based on “effective communities.” Specifically, he drew borders where dollar bills are least likely to cross.

There are a few interesting borders that jump out. Both Pennsylvania and Missouri are divided into eastern and western chunks. Major metropolitan areas that currently cross several state borders (eg Chicago) have their own state in Brockmann’s map. Notice also that the northernmost part of California is lumped together with Oregon and Washington–not unlike the proposed State of Jefferson. Dollar bills do not appear to cross the Red River from Texas to Oklahoma very often.

One component that would be interesting to add to this is how dollar bills travel internationally. US currency is frequently used in other (especially developing) countries so it would be neat to see how a dollar bill moves around once it’s outside of the US. Does it stay in the first non-US country it reaches, or move around more from there? This data could also be incorporated into a project like Brockmann’s: some communities near international borders might trade with neighboring countries more than they do other parts of their own.

3 thoughts on “Dollar Bills and US State Borders

  1. Ever heard of state re-organization commision of India? which was formed immediately after she acheived her political independence. States were formed based on linguistic lines. As you know there are myriad languages and cultures and a culture is synonymous with language so it was easy to put people in one basket who spoke the same tongue. And this linguistic based idea was touted as a greatest invention of that time, though it was the exaggeration of the ruling party.

    But in recent years the psyche has been under the process of evolution where we are now talking about re-structuring states based on its backwardness, development etc., But understandably US does not have a problem in dealing with cultural complexities, with that being the case re-structuring the boundaries based on economies is such a noble idea that it deserves an applaud. May be redrawing states based on equal proportion of population could have reason to an extent, but doing it based on economies is much saner.

    Sathyanarayanan D
    Twitter handle – @paytriat
    Blogspot :

    • La moneta unica per una moltitudine di stati determina squilibri, a volte esiziali per la sopravvivenza stessa di alcuni di quegli stati, come entità semi-indipendenti (poiché hanno comunque una moneta unica). Propongo, al riguardo un saggio che espone, tra l’ altro, una nuova teoria monetaria ed economica, il cui titolo è: FINE DEL MONDO, FINE DELLA STORIA O FINE DELL’ INFERNO SULLA TERRA? scaricabile dal blog:

  2. Pingback: Using money to carve up the United States »

Comments are closed.