A publication of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business
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Amish in Indiana and the United States

Look at county-level educational attainment data and you’ll find LaGrange County at the bottom of the list in terms of high school completion rates. Those with local knowledge know that this is explained by the large numbers of Amish in the area who only require formal education through the eighth grade. Since Indiana ranks third in the number of Amish nationwide and first in the percentage of Amish relative to total population, here’s a brief look at this unique segment of the population.

The Amish, known widely for the horses and buggies they use for transportation, came to America in the 18th century from Switzerland. The Old Order Amish branched into additional denominations that some would include in the overall Amish denomination; however due to the lack of available data for certain branches of Amish, this article focuses solely on the "Old Order Amish Mennonite" branch.1 Therefore, numbers of Amish in this article will be understated.

Amish within the United States

According to the latest available data from the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), 24 states reported an Amish population in 2000. Pennsylvania had the highest number of adherents, followed by Ohio and then Indiana (see Figure 1).2

Figure 1: Number of Amish Adherents by State, 2000

Figure 1: Number of Amish Adherents by State, 2000

Source: IBRC, using Religious Congregations and Membership Study data

Table 1 shows the top 10 Amish-inhabiting states by percent of total population compared to number of adherents. Although Pennsylvania had the highest number of adherents, Indiana had the most Amish as a percent of total population (0.32 percent).

Table 1: Top 10 Amish-Inhabiting States by Percent of Total Population, 2000

Rank State Number of Adherents Percent of Total Population
1 Indiana 19,177 0.32%
2 Ohio 24,613 0.22%
3 Pennsylvania 25,340 0.21%
4 Wisconsin 5,872 0.11%
5 Iowa 2,601 0.09%
6 Delaware 608 0.08%
7 Missouri 3,300 0.06%
8 Kentucky 2,272 0.06%
9 Michigan 4,771 0.05%
10 Illinois 2,306 0.02%

Source: IBRC, using Religious Congregations and Membership Study data

Figure 2 shows the number of adherents by county. Lancaster County, Pa., claimed the top spot, boasting 11,590 Amish. Holmes County, Ohio, came in second place with 6,202 Amish, and LaGrange County, Ind., came in third with 5,994 Amish.

Figure 2: Number of Adherents by County, 2000

Figure 2: Number of Adherents by County, 2000

Notes: White counties indicate that data were unavailable. The following counties had available data but are not shown: Lincoln County, Mont. (122); Boundary County, Idaho (76); Rosebud County, Mont. (40); Stevens County, Wash. (34).
Source: IBRC, using Religious Congregations and Membership Study data

However, at 17.2 percent, LaGrange County ranked number one nationally when looking at Amish as a percent of the total population. Adams (ranked third) and Daviess (ranked ninth) were the other Indiana counties to make the top 10 on this measure (see Table 2).

Table 2: Top Ten Amish-Inhabiting Counties Nationwide by Percent of Total Population, 2000

Rank County State Adherents Percent of Total Population
1 LaGrange Indiana 5,994 17.2%
2 Holmes Ohio 6,202 15.9%
3 Adams Indiana 2,686 8.0%
4 Douglas Illinois 1,449 7.3%
5 Davis Iowa 483 5.7%
6 Daviess Missouri 414 5.2%
7 Geauga Ohio 4,004 4.4%
8 Wayne Ohio 4,554 4.1%
9 Daviess Indiana 1,155 3.9%
10 Tuscarawas Ohio 3,122 3.4%

Source: IBRC, using Religious Congregations and Membership Study data

Amish within Indiana

In all, one-quarter of Indiana's 92 counties have an Old Order Amish Mennonite community. LaGrange County has the largest Amish population in Indiana with 5,994 adherents, followed by Elkhart and Adams counties (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Number of Amish Adherents by Indiana County, 2000

Figure 3:Number of Amish Adherents by Indiana County, 2000

Source: IBRC, using Religious Congregations and Membership Study data

Table 3 provides the top 10 Amish-inhabiting counties by percent of total population in comparison to number of adherents. Again, LaGrange County has the largest percent of Amish (17.2%), but this time followed by Adams and Daviess counties, respectively.

Table 3: Top 10 Amish-Inhabiting Counties in Indiana by Percent of Total Population, 2000

Rank County Number of Adherents Percent of Total Population
1 LaGrange 5,994 17.2%
2 Adams 2,686 8.0%
3 Daviess 1,155 3.9%
4 Martin 296 2.9%
5 Elkhart 4,758 2.6%
6 Switzerland 150 1.7%
7 Parke 273 1.6%
8 Marshall 608 1.4%
9 Orange 274 1.4%
10 Rush 228 1.3%

Source: IBRC, using Religious Congregations and Membership Study data

For more information, visit the Association of Religion Data Archives at www.thearda.com. In the near future, they will be releasing 2010 data, and we will be sure to provide additional coverage.

Notes

  1. The full data set includes statistics for 149 religious groups. For more information on the branching out and merging of Amish and Mennonite denominations, visit www.thearda.com/Denoms/Families/Trees/familytree_mennonite.asp. These data are the result of a survey and are therefore subject to sampling error. For more information on the survey methodology, visit www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Descriptions/RCMSCY.asp.
  2. Congregational adherents include full members, their children and others who regularly attend.

Molly Manns
Associate Editor, Indiana Business Research Center, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business