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Immigrants driving Indiana population growth

Immigrants are naturalized as citizens during a Fourth of July ceremony at Hammond's Wolf Lake. A study found immigrants were responsible for more than a quarter of Indiana's population growth this century.

A new study found that Indiana's population growth since 2000 has depended on immigrants.

Immigrants have accounted for 27 percent of the state's population growth between 2000 and 2015, according to a report by Emily Wornell, an assistant professor with Ball State University's Indiana Communities Institute. She found 320,000 to 326,000 immigrants have come to the state over that 15-year period.

One out of every 20 Hoosiers is an immigrant, and immigrants have been keeping nearly a fifth of the state's 92 counties from losing population.

Immigrants also are better educated than native Hoosiers, as 30.3 percent of them in Indiana have bachelor's degrees as compared to only 23.7 percent of native-born Indiana residents.

A recent study by the Urban Institute found immigrants cost local governments about $2,500 more than natives across the United States, largely because they tend to have more children and the cost of educating their children is correspondingly higher. But the study found the investment pays off as their children and grandchildren end up contributing more to the tax coffers than native Americans.

A National Academies of Science study found first-generation immigrants earned an average of $29,000 a year, while third-generation income jumped to $42,000 a year.

Wornell plans to expand her research by partnering with the University of Notre Dame to document the overall economic impact of immigration in Indiana. She will focus on second-generation immigrants, the demographic group "that is considered the largest economic contributor" in terms of earning, taxes and job creation, according to a news release.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.