Aging and Declining Populations in Northern New England: Is There a Role for Immigration?

Riley Sullivan
Date of Publication: 
July, 2019
Source Organization: 
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

This report looks at the economic impacts of a rapidly aging and declining population in areas of northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), and the potential role that immigration can play in maintaining the stability and growth of population and the economic vitality of this region. Local population decline depletes the workforce and local tax base, weakening the business environment and housing markets, and can lead to out-migration of young people and erosion of local public services. NEPPC analysis of US Census data shows that while population in northern New England states grew overall between 1990 and 2017, many smaller municipalities in rural areas saw their population decline and share of older residents increase. Immigration in turn has played a disproportionate role in maintaining population in these regions. In 7 of 10 recent years (2009 through 2018) statewide population in northern New England would have shrunk or stagnated in the absence of immigrants, with immigrants playing a proportionally higher role in smaller cities and towns with an older population and small youth population. In his conclusion, the author suggests that shifts of federal immigration policies, including increased support for refugee resettlement, could help slow population decline in rural areas of Northern New England. The prospect of a federal policy of reduced immigration will, however, tighten the squeeze in rural areas, leaving many municipalities with limited options to respond to the effects of population decline.

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Sullivan, R. (2019). Aging and Declining Populations in Northern New England: Is There a Role for Immigration?  Boston, MA: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Retrieved from