Updated population projections released by the Connecticut State Data Center at the University of Connecticut predicted slow growth overall, but with interior cities such as New Haven experiencing comparatively faster growth.
The greater New Haven area is expected to see a population increase of about 11 percent by 2040, in contrast with a 2.8 percent growth rate for the state as a whole, according to the data, which was released over the last two months. Much of this growth is expected to come from college-educated young adults, said Mark Abraham ’04, executive director of the data analysis non-profit DataHaven, an anomalous area of growth for New England. In an article for the New Haven Independent, Abraham said New Haven will continue to be one of a few places in the Northeast to have a population that is majority under 35 years old. New Haven is expected to grow by about 20,000 people over the next several decades, for which the city is already preparing.
“At a very basic level, there will be a need for a significant number of new housing units in areas that are accessible and affordable,” Abraham said.
City Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81 said New Haven is well prepared for a population increase, pointing out the city’s existing public transit system, affordable housing and social services. He noted that the city is looking at the Long Wharf area as a possibility for additional housing.
Nemerson also said the population increase is expected to come from many different demographic groups.
“We’re going to be having probably thousands of people coming here from other countries, who are going to come here because we’re a welcoming community that respects immigrants, that respects people who don’t speak English,” he said.
The slow rate of population growth for Connecticut as a whole is attributed to an aging population and low fertility rates, comparable to the rest of New England. With an expected net zero migration rate for Connecticut, population growth is highly reliant on the state’s fertility rates, the fifth-lowest in the country.
Michael Howser, who authored the report, said that only 63 out of 169 towns in Connecticut are expected to experience growth between 2010 and 2040. New Haven’s birth rate, congruent with the rest of the state, is relatively stable and projected to remain stable, so the city’s projected population increase can be largely attributed to a net increase of migration into the city, he added.
According to Howser, this indicates that Connecticut is about to undergo a demographic transition, as larger age groups like the Baby Boomers continue to age and the generations following are smaller in overall numbers.
The projections, which were developed using birth and death records, migration data and the Decennial Census, do not take into account potential fluctuations in domestic or international migration which could influence the rate of population growth.
“Should there be an increase in the number of international migrants who come to Connecticut rather than the constant rate which was utilized in the projections, Connecticut could experience additional growth,” Howser said.
Both Nemerson and Howser suggested that domestic migration data for Connecticut can be misleading. In New Haven and other cities in the state, international migration partially offsets domestic outflow.
“One commonly misrepresented headline in Connecticut is that everyone is moving out of state, but when we examine the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates data, we can clearly see that while we have had a negative domestic migration the past few years, we have also seen a positive international migration rate,” Howser said.
Nemerson agreed, noting that a family that moves from Connecticut to New York or Massachusetts, for example, is not necessarily leaving the surrounding area.
He pointed to a report published on FiveThirtyEight last year that compared different metropolitan areas with the U.S. as a whole.
“It turns out that New Haven, of all cities, looks the most like America,” Nemerson said. “We actually [have] a similar age, and economics, and demographics to America itself. I think that’s a very positive thing.”
Talia Soglin | firstname.lastname@example.org