UNH Research Confirms Migration is Biggest Driver of Population Change in N.H.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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DURHAM, N.H.—The Granite State continues to depend on migration for the majority of its population growth, according to new research released by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Population growth has recently started to increase after a decline during the recession and its aftermath. The state’s population grew by more than 7,000 annually between 2016 and 2018, and most of the gain resulted from more people moving to the state from other U.S. destinations. Immigration also contributed to the gain. In contrast, the excess of births over deaths has diminished so much that its contribution to population gain is now minimal.

“Migration is important to New Hampshire’s future because it brings in younger people of working age at a time when the state’s workforce is aging,” said Kenneth Johnson, professor of sociology and senior demographer. “In-migrants to the state have been better educated than those leaving and that has resulted in an increase to the state’s store of intellectual capital.”

Johnson noted that while New Hampshire is often characterized as a state where residents’ lineage goes back generations, in reality it is one of the most mobile populations in the country. Only 42% of the state residents were born in New Hampshire, far less than for New England (58%) or the United States (59%).

“The future economic and social well-being of New Hampshire communities depends on their ability to anticipate change and respond appropriately,” said Johnson. “This analysis of how the state’s population is growing and changing can help to inform policy and contribute to the efforts of policymakers, nonprofits and businesses to consider the future needs of the state’s people, institutions and organizations.”

The Carsey School of Public Policy is nationally recognized for research, policy education and bringing people together for thoughtful dialogue to address important societal challenges. The school develops and facilitates innovative, responsive and equitable solutions at all levels of government and in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

This research was supported by an Andrew Carnegie fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station in support of Hatch Multi-State Regional Project W-4001 through joint funding of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 1013434, and the state of New Hampshire.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. As one of the nation’s highest-performing research universities, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, and receives more than $110 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.