The Hoosier Life Survey (HLS) is the nation’s most comprehensive statewide public-opinion survey of environmental change to date. The HLS addresses how environmental changes—particularly extreme weather events—are perceived, how they affect people in their homes and towns, what Hoosiers are doing about it, and what they expect for the future. This research, sponsored by Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI), was funded by IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative.
Between August and December 2019, ERI reached out to 10,000 adult (18+) Hoosiers across Indiana—from Chicago’s suburbs to Cincinnati’s metropolitan fringe, from the Grand Chain of the Wabash to the shore of northern Indiana’s historic Limberlost Swamp. In total, 2,739 Hoosiers—representing 90 of the state’s 92 counties—responded. Thanks to their participation, ERI can now offer scientists, public officials, and the general public new insight into how climate change affects Hoosiers in their everyday lives.
We asked our Indiana neighbors more than 100 questions, organized in sections titled Who You Are, Where You Live, What You Value, What You’ve Heard, You and the Environment, and What You Do. Taken together, our respondents’ answers show us what Hoosiers think about environmental change—its origins, its extent, its impact on their families. The survey tells us, too, how Hoosiers learn about the issues vital to their future—whom they trust, to whom they listen, from whom they’d like to hear more. It highlights how much Indiana residents are already doing—or are prepared to do—to build resilience in the face of one of the grand challenges of our time. And it reveals the role of political and personal values—along with social, demographic, and economic differences—in dividing Indiana’s citizens in their approach to that challenge— as well as the fundamental things that we share despite such differences.
HLS’s in-depth, localized data enrich and focus the findings of other studies such as the Yale Climate Opinion Maps or the Pew Research Center’s US Public Views on Climate and Energy report. While these national surveys provide useful guidance to Americans seeking to understand and prepare for environmental change, the HLS—combined with ERI’s Hoosier Resilience Index, ERI Toolkit, and the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment, coordinated by the Purdue Climate Change Research Center—provides a model for universities and states wishing to tailor their understanding of environmental change and resilience strategies to the particular geographies and political and social settings in which practical, local actions can be taken. For more information on the HLS findings, see the interactive HLS Opinion Map, HLS Summary Report and the HLS Politics Report.
To make it easier to compare the survey results of individual metropolitan areas with the state average, the HLS team created a state-level report, which includes a high-level summary and online report.
More results are available through the HLS Opinion Map.
The metropolitan areas represented in the Hoosier Life Survey reflect areas with sufficient response rates to estimate views on environmental change. The metro boundaries match the statistical areas used by the US Census Bureau. Titles of some of these areas have been altered to reflect our exclusive focus on Indiana.
View a map of the HLS metro areas with the original US Census names.
A text alternative of the map is available online
The survey from which data for this map was drawn was sent out to 10,000 Hoosiers between August and December 2019. The survey focused on gathering a broad range of information related to Indiana residents’ views of their community, environmental changes and risk, climate change beliefs, the household- and community- level actions they were taking or supported being pursued, and their personal values. Surveys were sent to Indiana households using a spatially stratified sampling approach. To ensure adequate coverage of people across the entire state and for later geographically specific analysis, our team developed eight in-state regions, defined by clusters of counties. Each of Indiana’s 92 counties was included in a region. From each region, 1,250 home addresses were drawn at random from the United States Postal Service’s list (for a total of 10,000), which was purchased from a private address-based sampling vendor.
In mailing surveys to these households, a modified Dillman approach was used with a total of five mailing waves (Dillman, Smyth, & Christian, 2014). In an initial wave of mailings, households received a cover letter informing them about the survey, noting the confidentially of their responses and asking them to fill out the survey online. A link to the online survey and user ID number were provided in the cover letter. A second letter with the survey link and user ID was sent to those who had yet to respond two and a half weeks after a postcard reminder was sent to all respondents.
One month later, respondents who had yet to fill out the survey online were sent a paper booklet version of the survey and another cover letter requesting their participation. A final mailing wave, containing another booklet and cover letter, was sent to all remaining non-participants after two-months. Both the initial contact for the web- based survey and the mail-based version contained $1 pre-incentive payments. Upon completing the survey, respondents could request a $20 Amazon or Walmart gift card. In total, our weighted response rate was just over 29 percent.
To ensure accurate population estimates for this analysis, survey weights were used. Weighting incorporates: (1) A differential nonresponse adjustment to correct for unequal response rates by region, and (2) a calibration adjustment to 2018 American Community Survey estimates on gender, age, education, race, and Hispanic origin in the Indiana adult population. Weights were trimmed and scaled to the unweighted number of respondents. As the survey was not specifically designed to assess public opinion at the metropolitan level, results presented at this level should be interpreted cautiously.
Pairwise deletion was used to address missing values for the metro specific analyses. This enabled each analysis to draw on the greatest number of possible responses. The number of responses below represent the lowest number of cases from each metropolitan area included in the map (excluding questions for which certain respondents were asked to skip):
Bloomington, IN: 173 respondents
Northwest Indiana: 202 respondents
Evansville, IN: 167 respondents
Fort Wayne, IN: 163 respondents
Greater Indianapolis: 442 respondents
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN: 166 respondents