Abby Cobb and Katie Garris//EDST 240
Despite being only approximately 8 miles north of New Haven, North Haven is quite different from its namesake sister city. North Haven is easily categorized as a small, white, upper middle-class suburb outside of New Haven. Moreover, it has only about one-fifth of the population of New Haven, with 23,909 people (CERC Town Profile, 2014). It is larger than a few surrounding suburbs like Woodbridge, Orange and Madison, but is significantly smaller than Hamden, West Haven and Milford, all more than twice as large as North Haven (CERC Town Profile, 2014). In 2014, the four census tracts of North Haven (1671, 1672.01, 1672.02, 1673) all had a population that was more than 85% white (Social Explorer Online Database, 2016). The median value of a home in North Haven in 2013 was $285,803, which is higher than the Connecticut median (CERC Town Profile, 2014). The median income in North Haven is also higher than the Connecticut median: in 2013, the median income was $81,485 in North Haven and $67,098 in the state (CERC Town Profile, 2014). This fact becomes especially significant when one considers that Connecticut has the 3rd highest median income in the country. Presumably because of these factors, in 2007, North Haven was included in Money Magazine’s top 100 places to live in the United States (North Haven, Connecticut, 2016).
North Haven is very racially homogenous, with a majority of residents identifying as Caucasian (Social Explorer Online Database, 2016). Among the four census tracts that comprise North Haven, between 85 and 92 percent of residents are white (Social Explorer Online Database, 2016). The next most common race is Asian with between 3 and 9 percent of residents (Social Explorer Online Database, 2016). Despite the relative racial homogeneity of the city, there are slight fissures in racial tracts. For example, three of the census tracts have approximately 4 percent of the population that identify as Hispanic; however, in one tract only 2 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic (Tract 1672.01) (Social Explorer Online Database, 2016). While this slight fragmentation is probably not noticeable in residential areas, it does suggest a slight trend of separation between races in certain areas of the city.
The racial composition of North Haven has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years, as demonstrated by the comparative map below (Figure 1) (Social Explorer Online Database, 2016). The left side of the comparison shows racial data for 2000 and the right side shows data for 2014. Teal denotes the percentage of the population that identify as Caucasian alone, green denotes percentage black or African American alone, blue denotes percent American Indian and Alaska Native, and purple represents percent Asian alone. Between 2000 and 2014, slightly more African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics joined the community, and only approximately 5 percent of Caucasians left. The racial homogeneity of North Haven stands in stark contrast to the diversity of New Haven, where the population is a diverse blend of primarily Caucasian and African American.
This homogeneity continues when considering unemployment in North Haven. Three tracts in the town have an unemployment rate hovering at about 7.5-8 percent; however, one tract (Tract 167.02) has higher unemployment at about 11.5 percent (Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Research, 2015). When looking at the smaller census blocks, it is clear that there are three census blocks that contribute to this higher unemployment rate. These three census blocks, located at the northeast corner of North Haven, have an unemployment rate of about 12 percent. This location is the part of the city that is closest to Wallingford, which has higher rates of unemployment than North Haven, mostly between 9 and 12 percent (Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Research, 2015). It is unclear why the unemployment rate is higher in Wallingford, where the median household income is still above the state average, at $75,467.
The relatively high median family income begets a housing market that is also above average. The median home price in North Haven is $299,700 and the average rent is $1,215 (Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Research, 2015). However, prices vary significantly. According to Zillow, the lowest priced property for sale is $89,900 and the highest priced is 2.6 million. Two bedroom houses and apartments for rent range from $1,039 per month to $2,350 per month. There are also a few lots for sale, with the most expensive listed for 3.25 million. These listings suggest that North Haven is a family friendly town, with plenty of property available for families with children. However, prices can be much higher than in surrounding areas, especially when compared to New Haven property.
Racial separation is also apparent in the school district. Over the past 5 years, the district has lost 216 white students, but gained 37 black students, 117 Hispanic students, and 9 Asian students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). However, in context of the overall size of the district, this change is minimal. The public high school in North Haven has 1187 students, the public middle school has 800 students, and the four public elementary schools combined serve approximately 1152 students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). Private schools in North Haven are almost non-existent, with the three existing private schools only available for special education or preschool. However, North Haven is in close enough proximity to private schools in other New Haven suburbs that it is possible parents send their children out of the city for school. This may account for the lower enrollment in North Haven middle schools, when compared to enrollment in the elementary and high school.
It is clear that North Haven has some understanding of schools in the surrounding suburbs and New Haven. Some residents wonder why more money isn’t being funneled into North Haven schools. One resident believes “the only knock is [that] the state [money] that fund[s] the school seem[s] to be short every year due to most [of the money] going to the inner city schools” (Great Schools—North Haven, 2016).
Despite this belief, and the relatively small size of the district, North Haven’s high school performs well, and graduates many more students than the New Haven district. Graduation rates have remained stable at about 88 percent over the past two school years, which is similar to the Connecticut average, at 87 percent (Abdul-Karim, 2013). New Haven, in 2013, graduated only about 71 percent of its students (Abdul-Karim, 2013). In North Haven, students participating in Advanced Placement (AP) classes comprise 28 percent of the student body (North Haven High School, 2016). Moreover, out of the 180 AP tests taken at the end of the year, 140 exams were in the 3 to 5 range (3 is passing, 5 is above average) (North Haven High School, 2016).
However, in North Haven’s middle school, testing results are less positive. Only 44 percent of sixth grade students met or exceeded the achievement level on the English Language Arts (ELA) assessment (North Haven Public Schools, 2016). In math, the percentage was much lower, with only about 23 percent of student meeting or exceeding the achievement level (North Haven Public Schools, 2016). Eighth grade students had marginally better scores, with about 47 percent of students meeting or exceeding achievement on the ELA exam and 41% meeting or exceeding achievement on the math exam (North Haven Public Schools, 2016). These scores may explain why fewer students are enrolled in public middle school in North Haven—parents may see these lower rates of achievement and wish to send their children elsewhere; or the middle school’s achievement may suffer when students are pulled out of the district to attend private schools or schools in other suburbs.
Although North Haven is only eight miles away from New Haven, it is worlds away in racial and economic composition. Families are able to enjoy the benefits of living close to New Haven–with its relatively cosmopolitan access to boutiques, restaurants and art–but send their students to better schools, and live in a wealthier, more homogenous area.
Figure 1. Racial Composition in North Haven in 2000 and 2014 by Census Tract
Abdul-Karim, S. (2013) New Haven Public Schools Graduation Rate Grows to 70.5 Percent. Retrieved from http://www.nhregister.com/article/NH/20130122/NEWS/301229976
CERC Town Profile (2014) Retrieved from https://www.cerc.com/TownProfiles/Customer-Images/northhaven.pdf
Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Research (2015) Labor Market Research. Retrieved from http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/empsearch.asp
National Center for Education Statistics (2016) Elementary and Secondary Information System. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/elsi/tableGenerator.aspx
North Haven, Connecticut (2016) Retrieved from http://www.city-data.com/city/North-Haven-Connecticut.html
North Haven High School (2016) Retrieved from http://northhavenhigh.ct.nhh.schoolinsites.com/
Great Schools—North Haven (2016) Retrieved from http://www.greatschools.org/search/search.page?q=North%20Haven
North Haven Public Schools (2016) Retrieved from http://www.north-haven.k12.ct.us/
Social Explorer Online Database (2016) Retrieved from http://www.socialexplorer.com/