Boston Has Nation's Highest Ratio Of 20-34 Year-Olds

By Jess Bidgood

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Jul. 7, 2011

Young people gather on Boston Common for public re-enactment of a 1971 speech by Howard Zinn in 2007. (Mark Tribe/Flickr)

BOSTON — Boston is home to a bigger proportion of adults ages 20-34 than any other city in America.

2010 census data analyzed by Boston's Redevelopment Authority and confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 35 percent of Boston's population to be between the ages of 20 and 34. That represents an 11-percent increase from the 2000 census, which helped Boston knock previous first-place city Austin into spot number two.

Professor Alan Clayton Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University, says Boston's particularly dense, urban university presence is the biggest driving factor behind its young population. "Since these educational institutions are located right in the middle of a huge labor market, many students stay to work in Boston," Matthews said.

In a statement, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the city is working hard to retain college graduates.“Boston continues to be an attractive city for this highly sought after age group,” Menino said. “With the recent successes in our Innovation District, we’re continuing to build reasons for them to stay, and to attract more.”

Matthews said the 11 percent increase in the age group's ratio is partially due to university expansion, but was significantly rooted in the city's efforts to more thoroughly count its college students during the 2010 census.

The city has long been defined by its big presence of young professionals. Matthews said Baby Boomers who flocked to Boston helped the city transform from a declining manufacturing center into a technological hub.

"Going forward, it is still the reason why reason why Massachusetts and the Boston area will probably remain one of the key technology areas in the country. It’s the ability to attrct young students and to retain many of them in the workforce after they graduate,” Matthews said.

But he says the city risks losing some younger adults to increases in the cost of living.

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