As State Ages, Havens For Young Will Grow

Updated population projections from the Connecticut State Data Center at UConn show a region with slowing growth, an aging population, and a movement toward the region’s core.

By 2040, more than 485,000 people are expected to live in the thirteen towns of the Greater New Haven region, about 20,000 more than live here today. The populations of the nine “outer ring” suburbs are becoming much older, and are projected to decline in size as people age in place but have fewer children at home. Meanwhile, the City of New Haven and parts of immediately adjacent towns have been growing, attracting a disproportionate share of younger adults, especially those with college degrees (the city has 3.6% of Connecticut’s population, but accounts for 53% of the entire statewide growth in young college graduates since 2000).

The Data Center’s population projections, which are funded by the Office of Policy and Management, are developed using birth and death records, migration data, and the Decennial Census. They are frequently used in publications such as the Greater New Haven Community Index to help describe potential demographic changes across Connecticut. However, local decisions may impact these future shifts –  for example, towns that are projected to lose much of their working-age population may modify policies that currently restrict new housing. In a region where 75 percent of population growth over the past decade can be attributed to immigration, changes to federal policies may have an impact as well.

Havens For Young Workers

Other than New Haven, West Haven, and Hamden, every town in the region is projected to see a decline in its working age population by 2040, defined here as adults between the ages of 25 and 64.

In fact, West Haven and New Haven (visible in dark blue on our map below) are projected to add more working age adults than any other towns in Connecticut, with much of New Haven’s growth coming from an increase in the number of adults in their 30s and 40s.

Though it will remain smaller than the state’s major cities, these next few decades may be West Haven’s time to shine. West Haven’s working age population is set to grow by larger numbers than any other town in the entire state, with 9,000 new residents of working age; an increase of 30 percent. Changing age demographics need to be accompanied by changing infrastructure. Corresponding with the increase in younger adults, West Haven is projected to see growth in the number of children, who will need schools, childcare, youth programs, and parks; teenagers will need resources to support them moving into college and careers.

Though West Haven’s younger population is growing, young adults will remain concentrated in New Haven, and the city center will continue to be one of the few places in the Northeast to have a population that is majority under age 35. By 2040, more teenagers are projected to live in New Haven than the nine “outer ring” towns combined. This presents an opportunity to expand upon the city’s already vibrant youth arts and social justice communities and build up youth leadership and academics.

Aging Suburbs

On the flip side, Connecticut’s outer suburbs will need infrastructure to support their swelling population of older adults. By 2040, one quarter of the “outer ring” suburbs within Greater New Haven will be 65 or older, compared to only 12 percent in New Haven and the Inner Ring.

Compared to today, a much larger share of these older adults will be age 80 or older, raising many issues related to housing, transportation, social cohesion, and well-being. A recent study by DataHaven, commissioned by the World Health Organization, looked at ways to measure factors that impact the region’s age-inclusiveness.

Overall, the story of changing demographics in Greater New Haven mirrors that of other cities throughout the United States. New Haven, like other major city centers, is projected to grow (from about 130,000 to 144,000) and become even more important as a place where the region’s working-age adults are concentrated. Small cities like West Haven—towns with already diverse and growing populations — are projected to continue to grow and will need to adapt to meet the needs and opportunities of their young populations. Suburbs are becoming older, and their populations are projected to decline as older adults age in place and children leave.

As these older adults leave the workforce but remain in their homes, it will be even more important for the region to attract and retain younger workers and to ensure that they have the education and training needed to succeed in an economy that favors higher skill levels. Increasing the number of housing units built in city centers, or in other towns where policies allow, may help keep the housing market more affordable to younger workers as the total number of households continues to rise.

Camille Seaberry is Research Assistant and Mark Abraham is Executive Director at DataHaven, a formal partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership with a 25-year history of public service to Connecticut. DataHaven’s mission is to improve quality of life by collecting, sharing and interpreting public data for effective decision making.

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posted by: wendy1 on September 5, 2017  12:31pm

Read Howard Kunstler and Dmitri Orlov (lives on a sailboat).  The coastline is F***** and so are the suburbs.  In the end we will be lucky to have horses and bicycles (we will run out of rubber tires).  Many millennials already realize cities and smaller hubs near rivers may be a smarter choice.  You can live without a car here but I expect to be flooded out and soon.  My pitbull is already acting strange like she senses something really bad.

Crazy president, crazy weather…....

posted by: Esbey on September 5, 2017  12:56pm

Interesting data, but I would take the future projections with a grain of salt.  Mid-20th century New Haven was designed around predictions of massive population growth, whereas in fact it keep shrinking up to very recently.  Now, the population is roughly stable, slightly growing.  Who knows what economic and technological trends will be driving population in 2040?  Folks in 1950 had completely wrong ideas about 1970.

Just to join Wendy1 in the prediction game, I predict that West Haven will not grow as fast as the projection.  Wendy1 is much bolder, predicting that we will we soon be flooded out of our homes and “rubber tires” will disappear (I don’t think that genuine rubber tires still exist, so I think that has already come true.)

posted by: CT DRV on September 5, 2017  1:49pm

Stoked to hear that New Haven is growing, though I’m not surprised. Now only if there was a way that we could make even more investment in our city (say, fixing the arcane and inefficient bus system) adequately funding our school systems (that retain families and give kids the high-quality public education they deserve) and provide enough affordable housing to benefit the majority of working-class folks in the service industry that live and work here…

...if only there was some massive wealth-creating institution downtown that was under no obligation to pay municipal taxes…

...that could be tapped to ultimately make the fruits of our dense city core and downtown accessible to more than just those earning above $80k salaries…

Well, I can’t think of any such thing like that in town. Who knows, maybe the next tax break to an out-of-town developer for more luxury lofts will solve our massive non-profit tax footprint. Maybe more outerwear stores stocking us for milquetoast, tepid southern New England winters will save us.

Surely we have no other options. 

Land’s End ho!

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on September 5, 2017  2:02pm

I worry about the reality that New Haven actually sits in an ancient river bed.

if storms continue the way they seem to be going…the city itself will be flooded time and time again.

Worse than that, if we have this massive population boom in town and we DON’T offer these children something to keep them interested/busy we may just have a bunch of tablet holding social media zombies turning into trouble.

More than anything else, the New Haven Promise will continue to entice the remaining suburban families with mediocre school systems into the city.

What will that mean for the outlying families that don’t have that opportunity?

interesting read, thanks!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 5, 2017  3:24pm

This is Snake Oil and Three Card Monte being sold.

Millennials, And Boomers, Moving From Connecticut In Growing Numbers.

For increasing numbers of native Connecticut Millennials, “home for the holidays” doesn’t mean “Connecticut” any more.In 2014, more than 39,000 young adults in the 20-to-34 age group moved out of Connecticut, an increase of more than 20 percent from 2007.Despite the sharp increase here, a handful of other states — including some nearby — are shedding young adults at an even higher rate. Nearly 6.4 percent of Rhode Island’s Millennials left for another state last year, as did 6.9 percent of Vermont’s. New Hampshire’s rate was just under 6 percent. Some Rocky Mountain states have rates approaching 10 percent, according to recent U.S. Census data. Alaska’s rate is off the charts.Connecticut, with 5.8 percent of its 675,000 Millennials moving out in 2014, ranked 12th among the contiguous 48 states.

Hartford millennials making moves out of state – some for good

Valentina Birritta grew up in Wethersfield and is now a freshman at CCSU. She can’t wait to graduate so she can leave the state of Connecticut—for good.“I definitely want to move out. I’ve always hated Connecticut because it’s kind of depressing to me.

In fact not just millennials are making-moves out-of-state.

An Unsteady Future for New England’s Suburbs
As people move to warmer climates and cities, small towns throughout the region are weathering decline.

And when the gentrification takes over.there will be more moving out.

posted by: Stylo on September 5, 2017  10:49pm

I would strongly disagree with the Milford projections. It is currently one of the fastest (and only) growing cities in the state and has the ingredients that will position it for further growth. It’s exactly the type of suburb that’s prime for millennials settling down. It has more walkability than most suburbs, a vibrant downtown, a Metro North train station, good schools, wide variety of housing, and there’s investment being made in transit orientated housing. I would expect Milford to fare far better than other nearby towns.

posted by: teachermama on September 6, 2017  6:28am

These topics stir up strong emotions, so it’s nice to see some real research addressing issues of aging and movement.  People may read about a trend or see something anecdotal in their town which doesn’t necessarily reflect the big picture.

posted by: JCFremont on September 6, 2017  5:49pm

Question. if New Haven continuous to grow will it expand out, or upwards? Surveys and projections are nice but remember at one time current seniors, boomers and generation x’ers any y’s thought city living was the end all and be all. But alas the apartment becomes cramped, the bars, restaurants and clubs become younger and nosier so despite your academic projections you look to the suburbs. I can’t see New Haven becoming a metropolis of high rise apartments, the best thing for New Haven will be if those young people have children and buy a house in New Haven where you can have you have a lawn a nice house while sharing the city experience and the tax burden. Take a look at Westville and The East Shore and Morris Cove, The Q bridge is open, plenty of space and no flight to the suburb guilt.