New Hampshire Housing Study Shows Demographics Influence School Enrollment More Than New Housing Construction

New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority released a study today that examines the impact of new housing construction on school enrollment in the state. “Housing and School Enrollment in New Hampshire: 2000-2010 – A Decade of Dramatic Change, ” which was prepared by Applied Economic Research and commissioned by New Hampshire Housing, found that, contrary to popular perceptions, new housing construction has a much smaller impact on a community’s school enrollment patterns than do demographic influences.

This new study updates findings from two previous studies on the same issue and sought to confirm whether the similar findings from the 2004 and 2005 studies still held true in the aftermath of the housing market crash. It used 2010 census data, as well as case studies of four communities in various parts of the state.

“Both reports, which span a decade that included significant economic and demographic shifts statewide, show that new housing construction creates less of a burden to our schools than other factors,” stated Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing.

In the 1990s, the state experienced rapid 11% population growth and saw 39,000 new students – a 24% increase – during that decade. During 2000 to 2010, 44,000 new occupied housing units were added and the state saw its population increase by 80,714, but school enrollment dropped by 21,600 students. The report attributes this drop to an aging population and a shift in household occupancy.

In analyzing individual sample communities, the 2005 study concluded that the number of bedrooms per housing structure was the best indicator of how many students would be added to the schools. This still holds true today. Detached single family homes continue to generate a larger number of students per unit than condominiums, manufactured housing or multi-family rental housing.

The full report is available in printable format online at www.nhhfa.org. In addition, census data for New Hampshire may also be accessed on the website as part of New Hampshire Housing’s newly redesigned online interactive housing and demographic data.

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