Political Intelligence

Massachusetts population to age and grow more slowly

The population of Massachusetts will grow dramatically older over the next two decades, with one in five residents over the age of 65 by 2030, according to a new demographic forecast.

The overall population during that time is expected to grow much more slowly than the rest of the nation, threatening to dilute further the Bay State’s political clout in Washington. The University of Massachusetts study pegs the state pace at 4.4 percent between 2010 and 2030, while the country as a whole is expected to grow by 15.6 percent.

As it shrinks in proportion to the rest of the United States, Massachusetts will also grow older. Produced by the Univeristy of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, the study projects the state population age 19 and under will decrease, from 25 percent of the population in 2010 to 22 percent by 2030.

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The graying of the state will likely have major policy implications for Beacon Hill, with challenges to the state’s health care and pension systems.

Estimates from the University of Virginia, released earlier this year, pin the national share of the population over age 65 at 18.4 percent, putting the Bay State well above the country’s average.

Massachusetts is expected to add nearly 291,000 residents over the 20-year window, bringing its headcount to 6,838,254. The vast majority of that growth is projected to come by 2020.

Between 2000 and 2010, the nation as a whole added residents at a 9.7 percent clip, while the state’s rate was just 3.1 percent.

The sluggish overall growth could place more pressure on the size of the state’s congressional delegation. Congressional apportionment is recalculated every 10 years, and Massachusetts lost seats after both the 1990 and 2010 tabulations.

Within the state, the greater Boston, western suburbs, and central regions are expected to add residents, while the lower Pioneer Valley is projected to contract and the Franklin and Berkshire regions are on pace to register barely detectable growth.

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