Posts tagged with "depopulation study"

New Study Project Thousands of U.S. Cities Turning Into Ghost Towns by 2100

A recent Scientific American article highlighted the findings of a depopulation study published in Nature Cities that predicted thousands of U.S. cities will become virtual ghost towns by 2100.

The study was conducted using US census population data from 2000, 2010 and 2020. The article states “These projected findings about depopulation in U.S. cities are shaped by a multitude of factors, including the decline of industry, lower birth rates and the impacts of climate change.”

The study conducted by Nature Cities can be found HERE.


The Urban U.S. could look very different in the year 2100, in part because thousands of cities might be rendered virtual ghost towns. According to findings published in Nature Cities, the populations of some 15,000 cities around the country could dwindle to mere fractions of what they are now. The losses are projected to affect cities everywhere in the U.S. except Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

“The way we’re planning now is all based on growth, but close to half the cities in the U.S. are depopulating,” says senior author Sybil Derrible, an urban engineer at the University of Illinois Chicago. “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 his colleagues were originally commissioned by the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct an analysis of how Illinois’s cities are projected to change over time and what the transportation challenges will be for places that are depopulating. As they got deeper into the research, though, they realized that such predictions would be useful to know for cities across the entire U.S.—and not just for major ones, such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. “Most studies have focused on big cities, but that doesn’t give us an estimation of the scale of the problem,” says lead study author Uttara Sutradhar, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering at the University of Illinois Chicago.

The authors analyzed data collected from 2000 to 2020 by the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, an annual demographics survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. This allowed them to identify current population trends in more than 24,000 cities and to model projections of future trends for nearly 32,000.  They applied the projected trends to a commonly used set of five possible future climate scenarios called the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. These scenarios model how demographics, society and economics could change by 2100, depending on how much global warming the world experiences.

The authors’ resulting projections indicated that around half of cities in the U.S., including Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, N.Y., and Pittsburgh, Pa., are likely to experience depopulation of 12 to 23 percent by 2100. Some of those cities, including Louisville, Ky., New Haven, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., are not currently showing declines but are likely to in the future, according to the findings. “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,” Derrible says.

The full article by Nuwer on America’s projected depopulation can be found in Scientific American and by clicking HERE.