Aging Population

Citizens Count Editor

Census Bureau figures from 2000-2010 revealed a staggering trend towards an increasingly aged population in New Hampshire.

  • The number of residents aged 60-64 soared 75 percent
  • Those aged 55-59 increased 54 percent
  • Age groups between 30 and 44 significantly decreased.
  • The state's median age increased from 37 to 41

The latest demographic research shows these trends continuing.  

  • The state's Office of Energy and Planning projects a 129% increase in the number of residents age 65+ and a 243% increase in the population age 85+ by 2040
  • Researchers at the Carsey Institute made similar predictions 

An aging population places several stressors on state agencies and programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare. As the population ages, the labor pool will shrink and the downturn will negatively impact the economy. 

Efforts to address the aging population in NH

In 2017, Gov. Chris Sununu created the Millennial Advisory Council. The council is charged with recommending policy to attract and retain younger workers in NH. The council issued its first report in December 2017. Its recommendations include:

  • Revising state zoning laws to encourage the construction of affordable housing
  • Informing students about alternatives to traditional four-year college, such as vocational schools and school-to-work pathways
  • Promoting the use of renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions
  • Extending commuter rail service to Nashua
  • Encouraging family-friendly workplace policies
  • Providing incentives for hiring recent New HAmpshire graduates

In 2018, New Hampshire created the new office of state demographer, charged with developing demographic projections and giving notes on the potential demographic impact of proposed bills.

Many of ideas for attracting a younger population have their own pros and cons. For example, New Hampshire has long debated whether a commuter rail would benefit the economy enough to outweigh costs to the state government. 

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Killed in the House

Establishes a commission to study adaptation of the tax structure of the state to economic and demographic change.

Interim Study

Requires the Department of Employment Security to conduct an annual cost-of-living study for New Hampshire.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a process enabling vulnerable adults, particularly the elderly, to seek protective orders due to abuse, exploitation, and neglect. This bill also expands the circumstances that qualify as financial exploitation of elderly, disabled, or impaired adults. The Senate amended the bill to remove the process for protective orders for the elderly.

Signed by Governor

Establishes the position of state demographer, establishes a commission on demographic trends, requires state agencies to prepare 10-year cost projections, and requires the legislative budget assistant to include demographic impact notes on legislation. A conference committee amended the bill to add many new provisions. First, the amendment raises some state employee salaries. The amended bill also appropriates $20 million for red list bridge repair and $10.4 million municipally-owned high traffic volume bridge projects, and sends $10 million to the Rainy Day Fund. Another $2.5 million is appropriated for transitional housing for those leaving mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities. $300,000 is sent to the state loan repayment program, which helps employees in certain critical fields pay back student loans. The amended bill also appropriates $1 million to support "recovery friendly workplace programs" offered by nonprofits, such as programs that train employers how to reduce substance misuse in the workplace. Lastly, the conference committee revised the formula for "disproportionate share hospital payments," which go to hospitals for providing uncompensated care to low income patients.

Killed in the Senate

Establishes a commission to study end-of-life choices.

Tabled in the Senate

Allows cities and towns to adopt an exemption against the statewide property tax for residents over age sixty-five who have lived in town for at least thirty years.

Killed in the Senate

Establishes a commission to study adaptation of the tax structure of the state to economic and demographic changes.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a demographic study committee to consider net migration, New Hampshire's aging population, etc.

Tabled in the House

Establishes the John and Molly Stark student debt reduction program, which would provide grants to New Hampshire residents who attend UNH and agree to work in New Hampshire for four years after graduation. The bill appropriates $1.2 million over the next two fiscal years for the program.

Killed in the House

Establishes a college scholarship program for UNH students pursuing careers in social services, such as nursing. Applicants would have to agree to work in New Hampshire for at least four years after graduating. The bill appropriates $1 to start the program.

Killed in the House

Establishes a college scholarship program for UNH students pursuing careers in health care. Applicants would have to agree to work in New Hampshire for at least five years after graduating. The bill appropriates $1 to start the program.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a commission to evaluate the direct care workforce and preparedness of long-term care and support services for aging adults with dementia or other cognitive brain injuries.

Should NH government do more to address the aging population?

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Issue Status

The latest numbers from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey show that more young people are moving to NH than are leaving. From 2008-2012, following the recession, more twenty-year-olds were leaving the state than coming in. Though the new numbers are promising, the state's population growth is still much slower than it was before the recession. 

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