We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Might the Population of U.S. Cities Change by 2100?

Margaret Lipman
Published Jan 18, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

If anyone reading this is still alive in 2100, they’ll undoubtedly be living in a vastly different world from the world of 2024. While it is all but certain that technological advancements and climate change will have a major impact on human society, the worsening issue of urban depopulation in the United States is rarely considered.

According to a recent University of Illinois Chicago study published in the journal Nature Cities, approximately 15,000 U.S. cities will lose at least some of their population by the end of the century. For the worst-hit, it probably won’t be much of a stretch to describe them as “ghost towns.”

The study authors found that nearly half of U.S. cities are currently depopulating, even though many urban planning policies assume that most cities will continue to grow. By 2100, declining cities such as Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh are projected to lose between 12% and 23% of their current population.

These projections are based on data collected by the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey between 2000 and 2020. To reach their projections, the researchers applied current population trends in around 24,000 cities to five different scenarios of future society based on climate change, demographics, and economics. Around 43% of those cities are currently facing population declines, while 40% are growing, most notably metropolises such as NYC, Chicago, Phoenix, and Houston.

A country of ghost towns?

  • Although the study authors did not seek to identify the specific causes for the depopulation trend, place-specific variables such as industrial decline, lower birth rates, differing climate change impacts, and tax levels could all be relevant.

  • The study suggests that depopulation will be felt most keenly in the Midwest and the Northeast, while cities in the South and West are more likely to gain population. At least three-quarters of cities in Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Mississippi, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Michigan are projected to decline in population.

  • Although there is clearly much uncertainty about what the next eight decades will bring, the researchers hope that their findings will help urban planners recognize that they may need to shift their thinking away from growth-based planning. According to urban engineer Sybil Derrible, a senior author of the paper, the depopulation of cities is not necessarily a cause for doom and gloom. “We should see this not as a problem but as an opportunity to rethink the way we do things.”

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
Discussion Comments
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.