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As New England's most populous state, Massachusetts has seen its population grow steadily since colonial times. However, since the early 1800s, its growth rate has often lagged behind the rest of the nation's. Massachusetts's population, according to the 1990 federal census, was 6,016,425 (13th in the US), an increase of 4.9% over 1980, and much better than the 0.8% growth rate of the 1970s. Reasons behind the population lag include a

birthrate well below the US average, and a net out-migration of 301,000 people between 1970 and 1983, the largest drop of all New England states.

Massachusetts ranked 13th in population in the US with an estimated total of 6,427,137 in 2002, an increase of 1.2% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Massachusetts's population grew from 6,016,425 to 6,349,097, an increase of 5.5%. The population is projected to reach 6.9 million by 2025. The population density in 2000 was 809.8 persons per sq mi, the 3rd highest in the nation.

In 2000 the median age was 36.5. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 23.6% of the population while 13.5% were age 65 or older.

The state's biggest city is Boston, which ranked 20th among the largest US cities with a population of 589,281 in 2002, up from an estimated 547,725 in 1994. Other large cities (with their 2002 estimated populations) are Worcester, 174,962, and Springfield, 151,915. More than two-thirds of all state residents live in the Greater Boston area, which in 1999 had an estimated metropolitan population of 5,667,225.