6.22.2006

The Missing Factor in Population Decline Stories

A slew of stories this week in the papers, on population declines in and around Boston. This one by Peter Reuell on the Daily News Tribune website is typical:
Framingham lost 1,882 residents since the 2000 Census, more than any other city or town in MetroWest, and accounting for nearly one-fifth of those lost in all of Middlesex County, estimates released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau show.
The drop, from the 66,942 counted in the 2000 Census to 65,060, represents a nearly 3 percent dip in just five years, far outpaced Newton, the second highest population loser, where 737 were lost.
"It's such a complicated situation, it's very hard to get a finger on it without doing a lot of study," said Barry Winston, director of development at the Waltham West Suburban Chamber of Commerce.
The article goes on to cite rising housing prices, death rates, and a host of other factors, except one: Tens of thouasnds of illegal immigrants in and around Boston who don't want to be counted, or can't be counted because of language barriers or the transitory nature of their living arrangements.

I am not sure why Ruell didn't dig on this point. It's so obvious, but it's a pink elephant in the room that pols and the press don't want to address either for reasons of political correctness or because they don't want to admit it's a problem.

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