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Commentary: Hoosier comings and goings

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Commentary: Hoosier comings and goings


Last week, we discussed movers, folks who changed residence in 2017-18. This week, we’ll go further to find out where people born in Indiana were living in 2018, as well as where folks living in Indiana last year were born.

This report from the U.S. Bureau of the Census includes persons born in Puerto Rico, U.S. island territories, and foreign countries. As expected, the overwhelming number of persons living in Indiana (4.5 million or 68 percent) were born in this state. Likewise, 69 percent of persons born in Indiana lived in this state in 2018.

The second largest group living in Indiana (392,500) were foreign-born. But we do not know how many Hoosier-born were living abroad. There may be as many as nine million Americans living in foreign countries according to the State Department. We do not know how many expats are drawing Social Security and pension funds while enjoying the warmth of Italy, Greece, Spain, Costa Rica or Mexico.

The largest group of Hoosier-born persons living outside Indiana, as reported by the Census Bureau, reside in Florida. Yes, nearly a quarter-million persons born in Indiana are now Floridians; they account for 12 percent of Hoosier-born residents now living elsewhere.

Next in order, are the four states bordering Indiana. Illinois leads with 194,000 Hoosier-born residents, followed by Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky, each in the neighborhood of 135,000. The total of Hoosier-born persons in those four border states (598,000) is below the current 916,000 Hoosiers who have transferred, if not their loyalty, then their taxability, to Indiana. That’s a “surplus” of 318,000.   

In sum, we have a “surplus” of 413,500 with 20 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. That is, more people born elsewhere moved to Indiana than Hoosier-born persons moved elsewhere. In contrast we have a “deficit” of 700,100 with 29 states. The difference is a net “deficit” of 286,600.

Political leaders and other heavy thinkers bemoan our population loses. (I’ve done it myself from time to time.) We’ve experienced all kinds of government- and business-sponsored campaigns to keep our children home or get them to move back home. In addition, foundations, in their beneficence, spew money about to retain students attending Indiana colleges and convert them to long-term Hoosiers. The success of these efforts is anecdotal rather than statistical.

The data, however, reveal 455,000 Hoosier-born persons live in Florida, Texas and Arizona. That’s 339,000 more than those three states have sent north to us. Not all of them are escapees from winter weather. Perhaps, reducing the outflow of retirees, and their money, might help our state’s economy more than putting chains of guilt or sentimentality on young people.


Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at

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