Migration continues to be the number one cause of population growth in New Hampshire.
Kristine Bundschuh is a Ph.D. student of sociology and researcher at the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy who’s recently co-authored a paper on migration patterns.
NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Bundschuh about why people choose to move to the Granite State and why they decide to stay.
Rick Ganley: Kristine, your new paper found that more people are moving to New Hampshire and that they are staying longer. It's a modest trend compared to previous decades, but it has been growing in recent years. So who is moving to New Hampshire and where are they coming from?
Kristine Bundschuh: So we have people moving to New Hampshire who are in general younger than people who are long term residents of New Hampshire. Our paper looked at recent migrants, so people who have come in the last 10 years and [the paper] looked at reasons why they moved to New Hampshire compared to why established residents who have lived here for 10 or more years, that could be lifelong residents or people who moved here in the past, why they stay in New Hampshire. And we did find that the people moving here are younger than the current residents.
Rick Ganley: Yeah, we often talk about New Hampshire being an elderly state, being one of the oldest states in the union. How is that changing?
Kristine Bundschuh: Well, certainly this finding negates the idea that we do have retirees and maybe mostly older folks moving to New Hampshire. Instead, it is in general, the larger proportion are younger people moving to the state compared to the current population.
Rick Ganley: How quickly is that happening?
Kristine Bundschuh: Well, the trend has been changing recently. So the importance of migration in our state demographics is rising in the last few years.
Rick Ganley: What did you find in your latest study about why people have chosen to live here long term, and and how did you get that information?
Kristine Bundschuh: For people who moved here in the last 10 years, we asked them why they moved here, and we asked them open ended questions -- to list their top three reasons why they moved here. And then similarly, for people who have lived in New Hampshire for more than 10 years, we asked them why they stay here rather than move to a different state. So that's how we gathered our data. And with these open ended questions, we coded them into different categories and found that the top four reasons that people move to and stay in the state are actually the same four reasons. It's family, the natural environment, quality of life and employment.
Rick Ganley: Well, tell me a little bit more about those. I mean, if people are moving here for a job, for instance, you know, you might think they'd be coming here and maybe trying to get the job for a while, stay here for a couple of years and then move on. Is your research showing us that people are moving in, they're starting families and they're deciding to stay long term?
Kristine Bundschuh: So family is actually the top reason for both people, recent migrants who have moved to the state and for people who have lived here for a while, the reason why they're drawn to New Hampshire. So we found that that is both a pull factor for people moving into the state. And then also a reason that people want to stay here is being connected to their family, being close to their family, being able to support them.
Other factors were more related to why people stay or why people move. For example, employment we found, while relevant for both groups, employment is very important to recent migrants, especially to younger, well educated and higher income migrants. They listed employment as a top reason for coming to the state. On the other hand, the natural environment and quality of life were more important to people who have lived here for a long time. So we found that those are factors that, while relevant for both moving to and staying in the state, they really were more important to people of why they want to stay in New Hampshire now that they've already lived here.
Rick Ganley: Can you give us some anecdotes or some actual comments that you heard from people in the survey?
Kristine Bundschuh: So for an example of how we categorize these, natural environment includes several subcategories relating to the weather, the climate, having natural amenities like the lakes, mountains and forests, the seacoast and recreational activities. So an example that ended up in that category would be someone saying so many different things to do, beach biking, sailing, hiking. An example of family would be being close to children and grandchildren.