NH Never Really Lost its Attractiveness

There is no more overblown or misunderstood issue in NH than its demographic trends. There are challenges to be sure but almost all of the popular memes don’t withstand solid empirical analysis.  NH’s extremely low birthrates among women 15-44 (first or second lowest in the nation over the past many years – again a sign of NH’s successes not failures as it is a result of women in NH having with high levels of educational attainment and who have a high level of participation in the labor force) means the state must rely on net in-migration for labor force and population growth.  I have argued for more than a decade that there is nothing that has fundamentally altered NH’s attractiveness as a place to live, despite a number of years recently where more individuals moved out of the state than moved into NH. During times of recession NH tends to lose educated and talented people to places with more opportunity, while the housing crash that prompted the last recession made it especially difficult for NH’s core in-migration demographic (two wage earner, married couple families, ages 30-44, with children) to move into NH because they likely would have had to sell a house with an underwater mortgage and they would also have wanted to buy a house in NH (both of which were much more difficult between 2007 and 2013). Like all rural states, NH also sees a high percentage of young people leave and that has not changed in decades.  The good news is that net in-migration to NH is resuming and gaining steam, NH had the 6th highest rate as a % of its population of any state and the demographics of in migrants were a bit younger than prior years.  In addition, about 55% of in-migrants to NH over the past five years have a post-secondary degree, adding to the overall skill level of NH’s population.

2017 State to state

Still, net in-migration tends to be concentrated in a few areas of the state, the Seacoast, Strafford  and Rockingham Counties in particular, and in several communities. While state policymakers worry about statewide demographic trends it is most important to remember that the state and its communities are not monolithic.  Trends vary greatly across communities and it is the decisions and policies of local communities that most affect demographic trends.  It would be wise for policymakers and local officials to look to the characteristics of communities that are bucking the trends about which policymakers are most concerned (aging, out-migration, etc.) for prescriptions to address their concerns.

Explore posts in the same categories: Demographics, in-migration, migration, NH, Uncategorized

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2 Comments on “NH Never Really Lost its Attractiveness”

  1. jimrubens1 Says:

    Brian Fascinating. Thank you for preparing these briefs. Would you speculate on town by town attractiveness/unattractiveness to the in-migrants?


    • Hi Jim,
      Thanks for reading. It is pretty clear to me that higher amenity (quality services, social, cultural, civic, and natural amenities) communities that offer these at a value price (relatively more affordable compared to other communities) are the most attractive. I have written about this in my blog and on LinkedIn. Skilled, well-educated individuals are the most mobile members of society and can generally choose among many places to live so their preferences are important. In addition, you can go to any community and immediately know if it can attract millenials. Too many communities think that simply being the ‘cheapest” will assure their prosperity, the evidence that this is not the case is all around us. Offering more at the best possible price is the value proposition that does.


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