Report: N.H. Legislature is the "Oldest" in the Country

Dec 10, 2015

Credit National Conference of State Legislatures

New Hampshire’s legislature has the distinction of being the largest in the nation. But according to a new report, it now holds another title: the oldest.

The National Conference of State Legislatures, a group that tracks policy and other issues playing out at capitals across the country, put together a demographic profile on lawmakers in each state — looking at age, gender, ethnicity, educational status and more.

With an average age of 66 years old, New Hampshire was crowned the “oldest” state legislature in the nation according to NCSL — followed by Idaho (63), New Mexico (62) and Vermont (61). The “youngest” state legislatures are in Puerto Rico and Michigan (50), Florida (51), and Wisconsin and Ohio (52).

It's worth keeping in mind that an "average" can be a skewed measurement. In this case, the average age of a legislative body could have appeared "older" overall if there one or several lawmakers were significantly older than the rest.

When looking at a generational breakdown of the legislature, however, it's clear that the New Hampshire legislature is "older" than the state at large.

According to the NCSL data, “Baby Boomers” (born between 1946 and 1964) and members of the so-called “Silent Generation” (born between 1928 and 1945) occupy the largest share of New Hampshire legislative seats by age — 92 percent, combined. For comparison, only about 44 percent of New Hampshire residents fall in this age range.

Younger generations, meanwhile, are underrepresented at the State House. Millennials (born from 1981 to 1997) make up only 1 percent of lawmakers but 26 percent of the state’s overall population. Generation X (born from 1965 to 1980) has a slightly larger share at 5 percent of the legislature, but that’s still far less than its 28 percent slice of the state population overall.

This isn't the first time New Hampshire's legislature earned the attention of this national group for its unique demographic profile. In 2008, NCSL noted that the state boasted both the oldest and the youngest lawmakers in the country.

More information on New Hampshire’s legislative profile can be found here, and you can browse through some of the demographic data compiled by NCSL in the graphic below.