INDIANAPOLIS – Last week we breezed through the migration of people into Indiana between 2015 and 2019. This week we speed up the process and look at the outmigration from Indiana with the resulting net- and gross-migration figures.
Illinois gave us the largest number of in-migrants, 31,900 between 2015 and 2019. Illinois also took the largest number of our out-migrants, 15,400. These flows (in’s minus out’s) gave us a net in-migration from Illinois of 16,500. That positive net inflow from Illinois alone accounted for 47% of Indiana’s population growth from migration.

Excluding Illinois, 22 states plus Puerto Rico had positive net inflows to Indiana of 8,700. The leaders were New Jersey (1,700) and California (1,100). Similarly, net outflows from Indiana totaled 16,400 to 26 states and D.C. The leaders were Florida (4,200), Texas (2,000), Tennessee (1,500), Michigan (1,400), and Arizona (1,100).

Adding the in- and out-flows together yields a gross flow, the total number of people moving between two states. Once again Illinois was the leader with 47,300 (17%) of all those 282,200 persons either leaving for elsewhere or entering Indiana from another state.

Our gross migration was over 10,000 persons with six states other than Illinois. Three of those six states were our neighbors: Ohio (24,400), Kentucky (21,700), and Michigan (19,800). The remaining three were the “Sunshine states” of Florida (22,700), Texas (16.200), and California (13,600).
A high level of gross migration does not necessarily indicate an imbalance of the in- and out-flows. Indiana’s gross flow with Ohio a high gross migration, yielded a net in-migration of only 430 persons; our gross migration with Kentucky was 21,700 and yielded a net out-migration of only 24 persons.
It is common to use these numbers with words like “gained” and “lost.” That mode of expression endorses the idea that population increases are positive and desirable. Population declines are then negative and not beneficial.
This type of thinking about population change is generations old and often devoid of careful examination. Some people see benefit for themselves in growth. More people means greater demand for land, housing, food, and washing machines. More people could increase attendance at the opera or the racetrack, depending on your taste.
Others see more people as competition for jobs, parking, and golf tee-times. More people means more school rooms, more garbage, more pollution, more crowding, more noise and other expensive or unpleasant aspect of life.

People and businesses in this country have a nominal right to move where they wish. Thus, more households and firms confirms our location as a desirable place to live and invest. However, if more people move away than move in, we have failed to sustain their love, or at minimum their loyalty to our values and appreciation of our efforts. Clearly, data from the Census Bureau make us think.        
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