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Indiana Business Research Center

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IU Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

IU Kelley School report: Indiana population projected to reach 7.48 million by 2050

Pace of growth expected to slow in later decades because of aging baby boomers

March 27, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- By 2050, Indiana's population will increase by 15 percent, from 6.48 million to 7.48 million residents, according to population projections released today by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

More than one-third of this growth will take place in the next few years as the state's population climbs to 6.85 million in 2020. Indiana will continue to grow over the following decades but at increasingly lower rates.

"On our way to adding another million Hoosiers, the state's population will continue to undergo major shifts," said Matt Kinghorn, IBRC state demographer. "Indiana's population in the year 2050 will have a far different age structure and geographic distribution than it does today. These changes shouldn't catch anyone off guard. Over the last decade or more, the aging baby boom generation has already transformed the state's population, while a handful of metropolitan areas have captured the lion's share of our population growth."

The dominant force behind Indiana's changing population is the aging of the baby boom generation. The first boomers hit age 65 in 2011, and the entire cohort (born between 1946 and 1964) will be of traditional retirement age by 2030. By that point, Indiana's senior population will increase by nearly 600,000, and its share of the state total will jump from 13 percent in 2010 to 20 percent. All other age groups will see their shares of total population shrink over that same period.

While other age groups will lose "market share" in the coming decades, their numbers will still grow. Both Indiana's child population (age 0 to 14) and its younger adult age group (25 to 44) will increase by 75,000 by 2030, and those around college age will increase by 25,000. Indiana's older working-age population (45 to 64) will decline by roughly 100,000 over the same period as the baby boom generation moves into retirement.

"One important effect of this graying of the population will be the slowing of Indiana's population growth rate in the coming decades," Kinghorn said. "Populations change through migration and through natural increase (the difference between the numbers of births and deaths). While migration plays an important role in population change, natural increase typically accounts for the majority of Indiana's growth.

"Over the next few decades, both births and deaths are projected to increase, but deaths will rise much faster due to the rapid growth of the senior population. As a result, the natural increase of the population will slow," he added.

Around Indiana

The 10-county Indianapolis-Carmel metro area has long seen an ever-increasing share of the state's population growth. Between 2000 and 2010, this region added 231,000 residents, accounting for 57 percent of the state's total growth. Over the next 40 years, the region is projected to add 700,000 more residents and will claim nearly 70 percent of the state's growth. By 2050, roughly one in every three Hoosiers will live in the Indy metro area, up from 27 percent in 2010.

Hamilton County will continue to be the state's fastest-growing county as it doubles in size to 548,000 residents by 2050. If these projections bear-out, Hamilton County will surpass Lake and Allen counties to become the state's second-largest county. Over the same period, Hendricks County's population will climb to 268,000 residents -- an 84 percent increase. Boone, Hancock and Johnson counties -- also in the Indy metro area -- will round out the state's five fastest-growing communities.

Outside central Indiana, other fast-growing areas of the state will include Clark and Harrison counties in the Louisville metro area, which will grow by 35 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Warrick County in the Evansville metro area, along with Porter County in northwest Indiana and Elkhart County, should each see a 25 percent increase. The Fort Wayne metro area is projected to grow by one-fifth.

At the other end of the spectrum, large swaths of mid-sized and rural communities in north, east and west-central Indiana are projected to shed residents over the next 40 years. Many counties in southwest Indiana are also likely to lose population. All told, 49 of Indiana's 92 counties are expected to see a population decline by 2050.

A combination of net out-migration and slowing natural increase will drive these declines. Between 2000 and 2010, 29 Indiana counties lost population, yet the IBRC estimates that 62 counties had a net out-migration of residents over the same period, meaning that the natural increase in 33 counties was large enough to offset the net out-migration.

Net out-migration is projected to continue in many of these counties, although at increasingly lower rates. At the same time, slowing natural increase in many counties will no longer mask net out-migration. Many counties will even begin to experience a natural decrease of the population.

"The result of these trends will be that large regions of the state will age rapidly while families concentrate more and more in a handful of metropolitan areas," Kinghorn said. "This shift was evident in the last decade when Indiana was one of only a few states in the Midwest and Northeast to see an increase in its population under the age of 18, yet all of these gains occurred in just 24 counties."

Many of these same trends will play out across the country, particularly in the Midwest and the Northeast. In fact, Indiana's population is comparatively young. Indiana's median age will increase steadily from 37.0 in 2010 to a peak of 39.1 in 2035. The state's median age will hold steady at this mark through 2050. The state's 2010 median age is a shade higher than neighboring Illinois (36.6), but is roughly two years younger than Michigan (38.9) and Ohio (38.8) and one year below the Kentucky mark (38.1). Indiana is also younger than the U.S median age of 37.2.

To find out more about the data or to view the entire population projections dataset, visit the IBRC's Stats Indiana website. The IBRC will release labor force projections and population projections by race and ethnicity later in 2012.

The IBRC is part of a national network of State Data Centers and acts as the official state representative to the Census Bureau on matters relating to the census and population estimates. The IBRC has been producing the state's official population projections since the 1960s, with current funding support from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The IBRC also develops and maintains STATS Indiana, the award-winning, state-supported Web service.