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US shrinking cities pose policy headaches

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Depopulation in US cities.


Late last month, the second round of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate debates was held in Detroit. The city has a unique distinction: it has lost the largest share of its population over the past ten years of any major city, despite adding jobs since the start of the recession. Metropolitan areas that are losing population pose a challenge for economic development, as they are declining in the most valuable asset -- people -- for growth.


  • Areas with declining populations will look to innovative policies, including housing incentives, to increase population growth.
  • Such policies will likely only help if they bring industrial clusters; that could further increase regional income inequality.
  • Puerto Rico has lost 14% of its population since 2010 and will keep losing people unless its economy improves.
  • Puerto Rican statehood is unlikely by 2021, but momentum may start to build under the new governor.

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