7. Population Projections
The potential long-term growth of a town such as Conway is dependant on many external regional, statewide and national factors such as economic conditions, real estate values and cycles, infrastructure capacity, the availability of land, etc. Basic population projection models typically do not consider these external regional, statewide and national forces and are therefore less accurate since they rely exclusively on historical population growth rates. The population projections presented within this section are a combination of estimates from the New Hampshire Office of State Planning and Claritas, Inc. However, since Claritas’ population projections only extend five years to 2006, the consultant used Conway’s historical growth rate between 1980 and 2001 (approximately 1% per year) and applied the growth rate to Claritas’ 2006 population estimate over the next fourteen years (to 2020) to generate a long-range forecast. Neither population projection considers external factors and therefore should be interpreted as population “guideposts”. Since build-out (land scarcity and increasing prices) and infrastructure capacity issues could limit growth rates in southern New Hampshire over the next twenty years, combined with the attraction of the quality of life within the Lakes Region and Carroll County, population growth in Conway could exceed current and/or historic projection models.
As shown in Figure 3-3, based on recent population estimates and a historic population growth rate of approximately 1% annually, it is estimated that Conway’s population would be approximately 10,400 by 2020 – increasing by approximately 1,800 residents (21%). For comparative purposes, population projections prepared by the New Hampshire Office of State Planning (NHOSP) estimates that Conway’s total population will increase to approximately 12,000 by 2020 – representing a growth rate of 28%. It should be noted that the NHOSP projection was generated in 1997 using pre-Census baseline (2000) population estimates, which were slightly higher than the Claritas baseline (2001) estimate. Furthermore, the NHOSP projection is based on Conway’s share of Carroll County’s growth (capture rate) over the past thirty years. The methodology used by NHOSP has produced annual population growth rates in Conway that are one-half to one-third of a percentage point higher than the projection prepared for this master plan.