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Selectmen’s association meeting to look at countywide impact of graying population

Thursday at 5:30

What are the implications of a Franklin County population that’s likely to become proportionally grayer, with a shrinking or stagnant school-age population?

The Franklin County Selectmen’s Association will hear a presentation at its next meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Whately Inn from Susan Strate of the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute about its recent Pioneer Valley population projections.

The Hampshire County Selectmen’s Association has also been invited to attend the session, which will include a discussion on changes in local and regional service delivery.

Franklin County’s 70-and-older population, now 10.4 percent, is expected to more than double to nearly 21.5 percent by 2030, according to the projections, with a dramatic impact on how the services that towns are asked to provide, from library services to sidewalks that connect people with their downtowns. The population of those age 55 and older is expected to increase by 77 percent over the next 25 years.

The new projections from the University of Massachusetts Populations Estimates Project shows Franklin County losing about 2 percent of its 2010 population by 2030, while the state’s overall 4.4 percent growth over this time will be slower than the national growth rate of 7.4 percent.

The county’s overall population is seen as tapering upward through 2015 before it begins to shrink, because of an in-migration of retiring baby boomers. That increase is seen as eventually eroding, with increasing deaths associated with the aging population.

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