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Diversity Trends in NH
 
Published Friday, December 29, 2017
by KENNETH M. JOHNSON

Hampshire also has relatively low fertility rates compared to national trends among all its racial groups with the exception of Asian women. In addition, the recession significantly reduced NH’s fertility levels as women in their 20s reduced their fertility levels and delayed marriage during that time. However, there has been little recovery from these recession lows. These low fertility rates have diminished the number of births among whites and among minority women.

Uneven Diversity
Diversity is spatially uneven in NH. Large areas of the state have little diversity. Minority people represent a significant part of the population in the Concord-Manchester-Nashua urban corridor, as well as in the Hanover-Lebanon region and in a few areas of the Seacoast. This is especially true among children.

Concentrations of minority children are largest in Manchester and Nashua, where more than 30 percent of children come from minority families.

And it’s important to note, race is not the only dimension of diversity relevant to NH’s future. Early in the 20th century, 23 percent of the residents of the state were born in another country. Contemporary immigration levels certainly do not compare to these historical levels, as currently less than 6 percent of the state’s population is foreign born.

New Hampshire’s foreign-born population also differs from that of the U.S. as a whole, and this has consequences for our future. The largest shares of the state’s foreign-born population are Asian (35.7 percent), European (25 percent) and Latin American (20 percent). In contrast, nearly 52 percent of the foreign-born population in the U.S. is Latin American, 30 percent is Asian and just 11 percent is from Europe. Mexicans represent nearly 28 percent of all foreign-born residents of the U.S., but just 3.4 percent of the foreign-born population in NH.

Foreign-born residents bring considerable intellectual capital to the state. Some 40 percent of them have graduated from college compared to just 24 percent of the NH-born population over the age of 25 and 41 percent of the migrants to NH from other states. Though the state’s foreign-born population is more modest than a century ago, immigrants remain a significant source of diversity and talent as we look to NH’s future.

In a state with little history of diversity and where large parts of the state remain overwhelmingly white, concentrations of minority residents and especially minority children represent a challenge to school districts, health care providers and communities that must meet the needs of these diverse groups with limited resources.

This growing diversity also presents an opportunity for NH to embrace diversity and use it to foster mutual understanding and acceptance. There is little question that the population of NH will become even more diverse in the future.

How the people, communities, institutions and corporations that together represent the social, economic and political fabric of the state will react to this growing diversity remains an open question.

Kenneth M. Johnson is the senior demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of NH in Durham and a professor of Sociology. He can be reached at 603-862-2205 or Ken.Johnson@unh.edu. For more information, visit carsey.unh.edu.


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