A key factor impacting New Hampshire’s demographic and economic success is retaining and growing its population. What motivates people to move to New Hampshire is important to the state’s future and garners considerable policy attention. Much less consideration is given to retaining current residents. Yet on average, nearly 1.3 million New Hampshire residents do not migrate into or out of the state in a given year. Understanding why those residents stay in New Hampshire can be an important element of the state’s comprehensive development strategy.

In this brief, authors Kristine Bundschuh and Kenneth Johnson discuss the results of NH Granite State Polls conducted from 2010–2012 and 2018–2019 that asked a representative sample of over 3,300 established residents to share, in their own words, their top three reasons for staying in New Hampshire rather than moving to another state. They report that most long-term residents stay in New Hampshire for multiple reasons, rather than just one. People are most likely to stay for economic reasons, the physical environment, family, and the social atmosphere. Reasons to stay are interconnected, with people appreciating the overall experience of living in New Hampshire because of a combination of local benefits.

Given these findings, simple development strategies based on any one factor, like low taxes or stronger environmental laws, are unlikely to trigger substantial population retention alone. Rather, the multidimensional and interconnected reasons identified in the brief provide a roadmap for crafting programs and policies to maintain and enhance the state’s economic, social, and natural environment, both to retain more current residents and to attract new ones.


Carsey School of Public Policy

Publication Date

Spring 5-11-2023


National Issue Brief No. 172


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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