State House News Service

Study: Mass. Population To Grow 4.4 Percent Over 20 Years

BOSTON — The population of Massachusetts, a factor for everything from business growth and property taxes to congressional representation, is expected to grow 4.4 percent between 2010 and 2030, according to a study released Wednesday.

The UMass Donahue Institute’s Population Estimates Program study concluded the state’s population will increase by 290,589 over the 20-year period, estimating a 2030 population of 6,838,254. Most of the growth, or 3.2 percent, is expected to occur between 2010 and 2020.

By comparison, the population of Massachusetts grew by 3.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, a period when the U.S. population increased by 9.7 percent.

With other states growing faster than Massachusetts, the Bay State lost one of its seats in the U.S. House following the 1990 Census and another after the 2010 Census. Massachusetts holds nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the state Legislature put in place new district boundaries for the 2012 election cycle.

If the population estimates in the study hold up, Massachusetts may be at risk of losing another seat following decennial U.S. Census counts scheduled for 2020 and 2030.

While the state’s 4.4 percent growth rate over the 20-year period is more than the 3.3 percent growth rate for the Northeast as a whole, the study predicts the U.S. population will grow 15.6 percent over the same 20-year period, rising 8.2 percent between 2010 and 2020 and another 7.4 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Under the estimates released Wednesday, Massachusetts’ population will increase an average of only 0.22 percent a year between 2010 and 2030.

The study projects an increase in the state’s population of individuals 65 and older. That group accounted for 14 percent of the population in 2010, but is expected to represent 21 percent by 2030. Conversely, individuals 19 years old or younger accounted for 25 percent of the population in 2010, a share expected to fall to 22 percent by 2030. Those trends will likely have workforce and business implications.

The population in Boston, by far the state’s largest city, is expected to grow from 617,594 in 2010 to 689,991 in 2030, an 11.7 percent increase. Worcester’s population is projected to increase 6.7 percent over the 20-year period.

The study identifies Greater Boston (7.5 percent), central Massachusetts (6.9 percent) and MetroWest (5.8 percent) as areas where population growth will exceed the state average, and says the population in western Massachusetts may remain level or decline. The population in the Lower Pioneer Valley anchored in Springfield may decrease 4.5 percent if recent trends continue, the study said.

The report includes projections at five-year intervals and by age and sex for all Massachusetts cities and towns and eight regions of the state. Researchers say the data represents the first statewide, detailed population projections released publicly since 2003.

The institute’s population program is funded by Secretary of State William Galvin’s office and functions as both the state data center and the state liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division.

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  • Dave Holzman

    Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state, after New Jersey and Rhode Island.

    The United States is the fastest growing major industrialized nation, and that growth is especially bad for the planet since we consume the most resources per capita, and emit the most greenhouse gases. That growth has been fueled largely by immigration since the late 1960s (following the bill that enabled chain migration), when the population was not quite 200 million. We’re 317 million now, and we will exceed 400 million by 2050–4/5 of that due to immigration, according to the Pew Research Center–unless immigration is restricted back to the numbers that prevailed before the family reunification bill. The current immigration bill would double legal immigration, to 2 million annually, not including guest workers. It would not make much of a dent in illegal immigration, since it offers only vague promises of enforcement in the future.

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