Over HALF of America’s 24,295 cities could experience MAJOR DEPOPULATION by 2100

 Over half of the 30,000 cities, towns, villages and boroughs in the United States could become ghost towns by 2100.

This is according to a study published in Nature Cities and conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). The researchers – who looked into population projections for cities, towns, villages and boroughs alike – found that the populations of half of America's 24,295 cities could experience major population declines, with every state in the country except Hawaii and the District of Columbia being affected.

"The way we're planning now is all based on growth, but close to half the cities in the U.S. are depopulating," said senior author Sybil Derrible, an urban engineer at UIC. "The takeaway is that we need to shift away from growth-based planning, which is going to require an enormous cultural shift in the planning and engineering of cities."  

Derrible and the study's co-authors were originally commissioned by the Illinois Department of Transportation to analyze how the state's cities are projected to change over time and what the transportation challenges will be for places that are depopulating.

The further they got into the research, the more data they uncovered that allowed them to make depopulation predictions for cities across the entire U.S. – and not just major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, but all the other places in the country officially designated as cities.

"Most studies have focused on big cities, but that doesn't give us an estimation of the scale of the problem," said lead study author Uttara Sutradhar, a civil engineering doctoral candidate at UIC.

Most major cities to experience high rate of population decline

By analyzing current population trends in America's cities and modeling them among five possible future scenarios that model how demographics, societal factors and changing economics could alter populations by 2100, the study authors found that around half of the major population centers analyzed experience depopulations of between 12 to 23 percent by 2100. Notable cities in this category include Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Other cities like Louisville, Kentucky, New Haven, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York are currently not showing declines, but are likely to experience significant depopulation in the future.

"You might see a lot of growth in Texas right now, but if you had looked at Michigan 100 years ago, you probably would have thought that Detroit would be the largest city in the U.S. now," commented Derrible.

Regionally, the Northeast and the Midwest are the likeliest to experience heavy depopulation. On a state level, Vermont and West Virginia will likely be hit the hardest, with more than 80 percent of cities in both states shrinking to some degree. Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi and New Hampshire could see about 75 percent of their cities experience population declines.

Current population trends note that around 43 percent of the populated places in the U.S. are losing residents, while around 40 percent are growing, including major cities like New York City, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix. The researchers noted that many of these places will be experiencing massive depopulation, and only parts of the American South and West are projected to most likely gain population by 2100.

The study's authors hope their research serves as a wake-up call for policymakers to consider moving away from growth-based planning and begin to find and prepare place-specific solutions for cities that are likely to experience depopulation in the years ahead and the problems associated with loss of residents, including diminished tax revenue.

"We should see this not as a problem but as an opportunity to rethink the way we do things," said Derrible. "It's an opportunity to be more creative."

"These are not isolated problems to the Detroits of the world," warned Justin Hollander, an urban planning scholar at Tufts University who was not involved in the research and called for more depopulation research. "Depopulation is everywhere, and the paper is right to demand that cities face this fact and begin to honestly prepare for this possible future."

Over HALF of America’s 24,295 cities could experience MAJOR DEPOPULATION by 2100 Over HALF of America’s 24,295 cities could experience MAJOR DEPOPULATION by 2100 Reviewed by Your Destination on January 19, 2024 Rating: 5

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