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Little-Known Facts About The Ethnic Roots Of The Tri-State

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Each September, various events in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky honor the region's German heritage with Oktoberfest celebrations, like this one in the Queen City in 2015.

Our discussions of race and ethnic identity are often limited to big, broad groups: black, white, Latino, Asian, American Indian. Now, data compiled by the APM Research Lab allows us to get past those labels and get to know a bit more about our fellow Tri-Staters.

The new Roots Beyond Race project provides data on 198 distinct heritage groups based on self-reported U.S. Census Bureau data, and includes easy state-by-state comparisons.

"By weaving the data together from the wide variety of ways that people can express their ethnic heritage on Census questionnaires, this project is the most comprehensive look at the ethnic identity of Americans available," said the project's chief architect, Andi Egbert. "It teaches us so much about our neighbors and our country—especially the way immigration patterns have shaped our state populations so differently."


So what does this new data say about Ohio?

The top five heritage groups claimed by the 11.7 million people who live in Ohio are:

  • German (24% of all residents)
  • Irish (13%)
  • African American (11%)
  • English (8%)
  • Italian (6%)

This new look at the data also allows us to learn more about multi-heritage Ohioans. For example, did you know that 18,000 of the 95,000 American Indians in Ohio also claim African American heritage, making African American the single largest ethnic identity among Ohio's Indigenous population?
And how does Ohio compare with the rest of the nation?

  • Ohio leads all states in the number of residents with Hungarian heritage (195,000).
  • Pennsylvania and California are the only two states with a more sizable population of residents with German heritage than Ohio.
  • Ohio has the nation’s largest population of people who identify as both black and German (33,000).
  • Numbering about 16,000, Ohio has the nation's fourth largest Nepali population; over 80% of this group were born outside of the U.S.
  • Only eight states have a larger Polish heritage population than Ohio (430,000).


The top five heritage groups claimed by the nearly 4.5 million people who live in Kentucky are: 

  • German (13.6%)
  • Irish (12.3%)
  • English (9.8%)
  • African American (6.1%)
  • European, not otherwise specified (2.5%)

Other interesting facts: 

  • Kentucky has the 16th highest share of residents with Irish ties in the nation 
  • More than one-third of Kentucky residents claim German, Irish and/or English heritage


The top five heritage groups claimed by the nearly 6.7 million people who live in Indiana are: 

  • German (21.4%)
  • Irish (11.4%)
  • African American (8.3%)
  • English (7.7%)
  • Mexican (5.3%)

Other interesting facts: 

  • Numbering about 25,000, Indiana leads the nation in number of residents with Burmese ties (and also comes in first considering this heritage group as a share of the total population, at 0.4%)
  • Indiana ranks 11th in greatest number of German-heritage residents, and 13th among states for the highest percentage of residents with German ties

You can see results for other states here

Source: APM Research Lab analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey Data via IPUMS. Click here for detailed definitions and to explore the interactive.