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Why Is The Demographic In The West Central Mountains Primarily 55+?

Heath Druzin
Boise State Public Radio
The banks of Payette Lake from McCall, Idaho.

Melissa Hamilton lives in McCall, Idaho with her young family. She works at the University of Idaho extension office in Cascade, and she identifies as being a member of the West Central Mountains. When she heard Wanna Know Idaho was featuring the region on the podcast, her first thought was not a question. It was a statement she's heard repeated many times:

“‘We are a family-friendly community.’ And I hear that and then I look at the demographics of our area, and it’s predominantly 55+. And so my question was, ‘Why is the demographic in the West Central Mountains primarily 55 plus?’ I wonder, are we really a family-friendly community? Are we attracting families to our area, or are we attracting retirement folks?” 

According to Census data, about 24 percent of the people who live in Valley County — where Melissa’s home in McCall is — are 65 or older, and about 28 percent of the population of neighboring Adams County are in retirement age. Compare that to Ada County — where Boise is — which only has about 14 percent of residents in that 65+ age group. 

So, what’s going on here? How does this age gap impact life in the West Central Mountains? Are there any downsides for a region when the population skews older? On this episode of Wanna Know Idaho, we'll talk with an economist who can help to answer these questions.   


Now, what stories should we tell together in 2019? What’s made you curious about Idaho, the people who call it home, its history or its future? Boise State Public Radio needs YOUR questions to make this podcast. Seriously, if Melissa hadn’t asked her question you wouldn’t be reading this story right now. So, do me a favor: get curious. We take all questions — from the quirky to the serious — and then listeners decide which ones we report. Sometimes, the people who ask the questions even participate in the journalism. 

If you haven't subscribed to Wanna Know Idaho yet, find us on iTunes or wherever you get your pods.


P.S. Thanks to Boise music project ‘Up is the Down is The’ for the awesome theme music. Check the project out on Spotify and Bandcamp.

For more 'Wanna Know Idaho' content, follow host Frankie Barnhill on Twitter

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill is the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast. She's always interested in hearing surprising and enlightening stories about life in the West. Have an idea for Idaho Matters? Drop her a line!