Congressional district differences should be respected, represented

We now know the major party candidates for Indiana’s nine congressional seats. Few of us, however, know the diversity/similarity of those districts and the cities and counties they include. To refresh your memory of the geography of Indiana’s congressional districts, go to to find a map.

The latest (2016) data for Indiana indicate our most populous district, the 5th (northern Marion County, all of Hamilton, Tipton, Madison and Grant counties plus slices of Blackford, Boone and Howard) had 768,400 persons. The least populated district was the 1st (Lake and Porter counties with a slice of LaPorte County including Michigan City) with 712,000.

The 6th District (Muncie, Richmond, Columbus and down our eastern border to the Ohio River) had a median age of 40.1 years with 17 percent 65 or older. The youngest population was in the 7th District (central and southern Marion County) with a median age of 33.8 years and only 11 percent age 65 or older.

Far greater differences are found in the racial, ethnic and economic characteristics of the districts. In the 6th District, 93 percent identified as being white and 2.7 percent as black. Next door, in District 7, it was 58 percent white and 30.6 percent black.

The Hispanic or Latino population in District 1 accounted for 15.6 percent, while in District 8 (Evansville, Jasper, and Terre Haute) the figure was 2.3 percent. In addition, District 8 had the highest percentage of persons born in Indiana (75 percent) while the 1st District had 60 percent native born.

The 2nd District (LaPorte, South Bend, Elkhart, Peru and Wabash) had the highest share of population (87 percent) living in the same house as a year earlier. By contrast, in the 4th District (Lafayette, Kokomo and Logansport, southeast to Hendricks County and northwest to Newton County) 81 percent resided in the same house as they did in the previous year.

The 5th District had the highest levels of education attainment and median household income. High school graduates were 93.4 percent of the population age 25 and older, with 45 percent having received a bachelor’s degree or higher. This translated into a median household income of $67,461.

The lowest level of high school completion (84 percent) was in the 2nd District with the lowest levels of college completion (21 percent) in Districts 2 and 6. However, the lowest median household income ($41,429) was found in District 7.

We’ve just scratched the surface of the diversity/similarity of Indiana’s congressional districts. Yet within most districts even greater diversity will be found. Good candidates know these differences when they hit the road and remind their constituents that diversity in our population must be respected and represented.

Morton Marcus is an economist, formerly with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Send comments to [email protected].