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Tanya Hall
Indiana Business Research Center

Last modified: Monday, March 15, 2010

IU's Indiana Business Research Center offers interesting facts for St. Patrick's Day 2010

March 15, 2010

EDITORS: Tanya J. Hall, an economic research analyst at the IBRC, is available to discuss the data presented in this release and can be reached at 812-855-5507 or

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Just in time for the parades and other celebrations for St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday (March 17), here are some interesting facts about this Irish holiday from the Indiana Business Research Center in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

Pot of Gold

Illustration by Ned Shaw

Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish. The world's first St. Patrick's Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. The parade became an annual event, with other cities around the globe featuring parades and other unique ways of celebrating the Irish holiday.

Kiss Me, I'm Irish:

  • About 36.3 million U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2008. This number is more than eight times the population of Ireland (4.4 million). The Irish ancestry is the nation's second most frequently reported ancestry behind German.
  • Nearly 13 percent of all Hoosiers, 826,456 people, claimed an Irish ancestry in 2008. Massachusetts has the largest share of Irish ancestry (24 percent). The national average is 12 percent.
  • There were 1,937 Irish-born Indiana residents in 2008, which is less than 1 percent of all the population who claimed an Irish ancestry. The majority of these residents entered the United States before 1990 (71.9 percent).

Irish-Americans Today:

  • The percentage of Irish-Americans, 25 years and older, who have a bachelor's degree or higher in Indiana is 25.6 percent, compared to 32.1 percent nationally. Additionally, 90.6 percent of those with an Irish ancestry had at least a high school degree in Indiana compared to 92.2 percent nationally. This ancestry group fares better than Indiana as a whole as only 22.9 percent of the adult population has a bachelor's degree or higher and 86.2 percent has at least a high school degree.
  • Hoosier Irish-Americans earn a median household income of $51,268, compared to the median household income of $47,966 for all Hoosiers. Only 7.1 percent of Irish-Americans are in poverty whereas 9.6 percent of all Hoosiers are in poverty.
  • 34.9 percent of employed civilian Irish-Americans, age 16 and older, in Indiana worked in management, professional and related occupations in 2008. Other popular occupations are sales and office (25.2 percent), service (16.6 percent), and production, transportation, and material moving (15.1 percent).

Celebrating Irish-style:

  • Corned beef and cabbage is a popular Irish dish. Of the 40.7 billion pounds of beef produced in the United States in 2008, Indiana produced just 234,424 pounds, well behind the national leader of Texas, which produced nearly 6.5 billion pounds of beef. Elkhart County produced the most cattle in 2008, with a heavy emphasis on dairy cattle. The southern Indiana counties (Lawrence, Washington, Harrison, Dubois and Greene) continue to be the leaders in beef cattle production in Indiana. How much of that beef is corned is undetermined.
  • Indiana did not produce any of the 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage produced in the United States in 2008, while New York and California (the top two cabbage producing states) each grew more than half a million pounds.
  • Not surprisingly, $144.4 million in beer was imported from Ireland in 2009. Ireland is the fourth largest source of imported beer behind Mexico, the Netherlands, and Canada. Popular Irish beers include Murphy's, Smithwick's, Harp and Guinness.
  • An estimated 2 million people will watch the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City. Since its inception, the parade has grown to include roughly 150,000 marchers and peaked in 2002 with 300,000 marchers.
  • Wholesale trade of potted florist chrysanthemums totalled $35 million in 2008, as reported by operations with $100,000 or more sales. Lime green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick's Day celebrations.