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Section I: Demographic Analysis
Cultural Diversity
Births and Deaths

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Chautauqua County, New York

Chautauqua County, the western gateway to New York State, occupies the extreme southwest corner of the state (STATE MAP). It is located on the New York State Thruway, equidistant between Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA, and bordered on the north by Lake Erie (REGIONAL MAP).

Its two cities, Jamestown and Dunkirk, twenty-seven towns, and fifteen villages cover 1065 square miles, with a population of 139,750 according to the 2000 census. Because of its six beautiful lakes and approximately fifty miles of Lake Erie shoreline, tourism is one of the county's fastest growing industries. By census definition, 58.8% of the county's population resides in urban areas, while 41.2% resides in rural areas.

The county is geographically, and to some extent socially and economically, divided between the "south county," which includes the City of Jamestown, the county's largest population center (31,730), and the "north county," which includes the City of Dunkirk (13,131).

The geographic distribution of townships and municipalities is depicted in the following map.

Section map of Chautauqua County

Chautauqua County's population of 139,750 ranks 23rd among New York's 62 counties, and constitutes 0.74% of the state's population (POPULATION OF NEW YORK COUNTIES). The population is distributed among 49 locations, consisting of cities, towns, places, and town remainders. The population, population percent, and population change between 1990 and 2000 for these 49 locations are outlined in the following table.

Population distribution among locations in the county between 1980 and 2000

The population of the county has declined since the 1980 census, from 146,925 to 141,895 between 1980 and 1990, a decline of 5030 residents or 3.42%, and again between 1990 and 2000 by 2145 residents or 1.51%. Similar declines are seen between 1990 and 2000 in the cities of Jamestown (8.51%) and Dunkirk (6.13%).

According to more recent population projections, the population has declined by an additional 2105 (-1.5%) as of July 2003, and will rank 60th among NYS counties in population growth. (NEW YORK POPULATION ESTIMATES BY COUNTY FOR 2003) The entire projected decline in Chautauqua County population growth is due to net migration: births were projected to outnumber deaths by 114, but 2,219 persons were expected to migrate, a rate of 1.59 per 1000 (RESIDENTIAL POPULATION AND COMPONENTS OF CHANGE).

Population change can also be viewed by increases and decreases in racial and ethnic categories (POPULATION CHANGE ESTIMATES BY RACE AND HISPANIC/LATINO ORIGIN). The Hispanic/Latino population of Chautauqua County, the fastest growing of these categories, increased 42.41% from 4098 in the 1990 census to 5836 in the 2000 census, and was projected to grow and additional 13.26% to 6610 by July of 2002 (See the diversity section for more details).

The following table breaks down the population of Chautauqua County by a variety of sex and age groupings.

New York County Population by Sex and Age Groups

New York County Population by sex and age groups

Age and sex breakdowns for each geographic area in the county are also summarized(CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY LOCATIONS BY AGE AND SEX), as are 1990 and 2000 comparisons of male and female age groups(FEMALE AGE GROUPS) (MALE AGE GROUPS).


In general, the population of Chautauqua County has declined steadily over the last decades, and further declines are projected. These declines are seen as largely due to the economic difficulties experienced by Western New York, and a much wider region of the Northeast as well, which lead to the loss of jobs, problems attracting new businesses, and insufficient opportunities to retain younger job seekers and college graduates. For the purposes of health problem identification and service planning, population changes for specific ages, sexes, and locations in the county can be calculated from links provided above. Population declines can result in shifts in population characteristics that may, in turn, be associated with declining tax bases, high poverty rates, and other factors that have implications for the need, availability, and delivery of health services among specific subpopulations.

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