4. Components of Population Change

4. Components of Population Change
Population growth is comprised of two primary components: natural increase (number of births less the number of deaths) and the net migration of people moving into or out of a community. As shown in Table 3-3, most of Conway’s population increase during the 1990s was due to migration rather than natural increase. Furthermore, the net migration of new residents moving into Conway dramatically increased in the 1990s as compared to the 1980s. The change in the natural increase component can be attributed to both the aging and movement of the baby boom generation out of the prime child-bearing years (20 to 34), as well as the attractiveness of the quality of life in the Mount Washington Valley to people living in other parts of New Hampshire and/or Massachusetts.
Table 3-3. Components of Population Change: Net Migration
Town of Conway
  Population Change Natural Increase Net Migration Net Migration as % of Pop. Change
1980-1989 817 526 291 35.6%
1990-2000 664 185 479 72.1%
Source: NH Department of Health and Human Services
Another component of a town’s population is the age distribution of its residents. As shown in Table 3-4, Conway, like almost all communities, is experiencing a general aging of the population caused by the progression of the large number of baby boomers into older age cohorts. Specifically, Conway’s median age in 2000 was 39.9 years which represents an increase of five years since 1990. Projections indicate that Conway will continue to age over the next four years, with the median age increasing to 40.5 years by 2006. It is anticipated that the town’s median age should continue to creep upward due, in part, to the continued aging of the population as well as the in-migration of baby boomers and near seniors who are attracted to the area’s high quality of life for retirement.
As illustrated in Table 3-4, the number of near seniors (55-64), as a percentage of Conway’s total population, has increased from 8.6% in 1990 to 9.7% in 2000 – representing an increase of approximately 1%. Furthermore, Claritas, Inc. estimates that the percentage of near seniors in Conway is expected to increase by another 3% between 2001 and 2006. In terms of overall actual and percentage gains, there are approximately 835 near seniors in Conway, which denotes an increase of 155 (23%) since 1990. Projections indicate that the number of near seniors is expected to grow faster than any other cohort in Conway increasing by 268 residents (33%) between 2001 and 2006.
The largest portion of Conway’s population is the middle-age (35-54) cohort which is currently 32.5% of the total population; this represents an increase of 5% since 1990. In addition to representing the largest gains in terms of percent of the total population between 1990 and 2000, the middle-age cohort experienced the largest actual and percentage growth of any cohort over the same time period, increasing by 635 (29.4%).
Projections indicate that the middle-age cohort should loose a very small number of residents (23 or 0.8%) between 2001 and 2006. Having a large number of middle-age persons is often viewed as beneficial to a community because members of this respective cohort are generally at the peak of their income earning potential and are on track to move into the near senior cohort.
Interestingly, Conway has experienced a decline in the number of residents in the young families/singles (25-34) cohort over the past decade. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of residents in the young families/singles declined by 335, representing a decrease of 23%. This decline in the number of young families/singles is expected to continue over the next five years. As residents within this cohort typically start to have families, a decline in the number of residents within this cohort may lead to reductions in school enrollment in five to ten years. However, this reduction may be offset by established families with school age children moving into Conway over the same time period.