Following on the recent post on New Hampshire’s slide into Demographic Winter, one critical piece of information that we need is whether or not the decline in folks under the age of 18 is a one-time blip or something more permanent?
As shown in the chart below, between 1991 and 2011 the number of births in New Hampshire has plummeted by 25 percent to 12,795 in 2011 from 16,977 in 1991. Interestingly, you can also the effects of the business cycle on births with a spike in births during the housing boom (2005 and 2006) and now a steep drop-off since the beginning of the “Great Recession.”
While the long-term reality is somewhere in-between, as represented by the trend-line, the direction is clearly downward. This means that as we move forward, the number of children under the age of 18 will continue to shrink in both numbers and as a percent of the total population (assuming we don’t see a boom in net in-migration of young families).
This will also mean that New Hampshire will face an educational crisis as school enrollment follows this trend leaving many schools under-utilized. At the same time, the costs of operating them will not drop in proportion. As a state, we will have to become more flexible with our educational options since the old system is unsustainable with an ever shrinking enrollment.
One option you’ll hear more about from Cornerstone Policy Research are Education Savings Accounts which are being implemented all over the country . . . stay tuned.