Amish Economic Transformations: New Forms of Income and Wealth Distribution in a Traditionally “Flat” Community

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The basic contours of the Amish economic transformation over the past few decades have been well documented, including the demographic squeeze that pushed many Amish out of farming, their embrace of cottage industries and, to a lesser extent, factory labor, and the social and cultural dilemmas created by successful entrepreneurship. Yet the effects of increasing market entanglement on the distribution of income and assets in Amish communities are still poorly understood. In this exploratory study, we draw on publicly available data from the U.S. Census, the Ohio Amish Directory, and records from real estate transactions to map out the distribution of income and land wealth in one predominantly Amish-populated Census Tract in Holmes County, OH. Our findings illustrate economic differentiation within the Amish community, as well as the ways in which affiliation and church leadership are associated with land holdings. Our case study raises important questions about growing economic inequalities that merit further exploration.



Amish, economics, wealth, income, land, U.S. Census, inequality, Holmes County, OH


Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies v. 2, no. 1 (2014), p. 1-22.