Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



Northwest Indiana is a region with a storied economic past. Once one of the dominant steel and manufacturing powerhouses of the United States, the region began a decline in the 1970s similar to that of other Rust Belt regions in the United States. Since the 1970s, the region has undergone dramatic change as it struggles to define itself for the 21st century. Despite these challenges, the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics and trends, when viewed at the regional level, appear quite typical for the United States. The representative nature of Northwest Indiana at this level conceals vast differences between cities within the region, however. In this paper, I analyze the broad socioeconomic and demographic changes in Northwest Indiana at the city level since the 1970s. I find significant variation between cities within the region in terms of trends in population, income, age, education, race, ethnicity, and poverty. The former urban core of the region still faces significant challenges, while some of the surrounding cities and towns have been extremely successful and are developing more quickly than the State of Indiana and the nation overall.