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Morton J. Marcus

When you talk about Hispanics in Indiana, who are you talking about? These Hoosiers didn’t just arrive in the U.S. Most (72%) were born in America; another 9% have been in the U.S. long enough to be naturalized citizens.

A person is Hispanic if s/he identifies him/herself as Hispanic. The most recent Census Bureau data (2021) reveal about 494,000 Hispanic persons living in Indiana. That’s just 0.8% of the nation’s Hispanic population, ranking this state 21st among the 50 states. Three states (California, Texas and Florida) alone account for 54% of all Hispanics in the nation..

That 494,000 Hispanics constitute 7.3% of Indiana’s 6.7 million Hoosiers. We rank 30th in percentage Hispanic behind number one, New Mexico, where 49.6% of the population identifies as Hispanic.

Marion County has the biggest Hispanic population in Indiana (105,100), followed by Lake County with 97,900. Together they account for 40% of the state’s Hispanic residents. The next largest number of Hispanics (34,500) reside in Elkhart County, where they constitute 16.6% of the county’s total population.

Lake County is first with 19.7% of its population identifying as Hispanic. Elkhart County is second, Third place goes to Clinton County (Frankfort) with 16.5% Hispanic, followed closely by Cass at 16.3%. In fifth place is Marion (10.8), with Noble, Porter, and Marshall completing the list of counties with Hispanics as a tenth of their populations.

Anytime a substantial minority exists in a community there is opportunity for greater diversity in consumer goods and services. This diversity can be a cultural bonus, an enhancement of choice.

There may also be a cultural burden if the minority has a different age composition than the majority. When the statewide age distributions of the Hispanic and Non-Hispanic populations are compared, the Index of Disparity is 21%.

Let’s explain that. People 10 to 14 years old account for 11.5% of Indiana’s Hispanic population and 6.5% for the Non-Hispanics — a difference of 5.0%. That 5.0% seems like a small number until we find it’s 23,100 of the 462,400 persons of that age.

Given the concentration of Hispanic populations in the state (40% in just two counties), we have significant language and orientation problems in our schools. Similar issues may arise in health care and other services because the Non-Hispanic majority differs in its age distribution from that of the Hispanic minority.

When that 5% figure is added to all other age disparities for a given county, we have a countywide Disparity Index. Allen County’s age Disparity Index is 19% while Cass County is up at 28%, Jackson 34%, and Scott at 50%.

Age disparities are only one of several factors giving rise to community issues. When economic, demographic, or educational disparities exist among easily identified groups, efficiency and even social cohesion are threatened.

Morton Marcus is an economist. Reach him at Follow him and John Guy on Who Gets What? wherever podcasts are available or at

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