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Brookings Mountain West

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The Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech identifies ten US “Megapolitan Areas”— clustered networks of metropolitan areas that exceed 10 million total residents (or will pass that mark by 2040) . Six Megapolitan Areas lie in the eastern half of the United States, while four more are found in the West. Megapolitan Areas extend into 35 states, including every state east of the Mississippi River except Vermont. Sixty percent of the Census Bureau’s “Consolidated Statistical Areas” are found in Megapolitan Areas, as are 39 of the nation’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas. As of 2003, Megapolitan Areas contained less than a fifth of all land area in the lower 48 states, but captured more than two-thirds of total US population with almost 200 million people. Megapolitan Areas are expected to add 83 million people (or the current population of Germany) by 2040, accounting for seven in every ten new Americans. By 2040, a projected 33 trillion dollars will be spent on Megapolitan building construction. The figure represents over three quarters of all the capital that will be expended nationally on private real estate development. In 2004, Democratic candidate John Kerry won the Megapolitan Area popular vote by 51.6 percent to 48.4 for President George W. Bush—or almost the exact reverse of the nation as a whole. Kerry received 46.4 million Megapolitan votes, while Bush won 43.5 million. Megapolitan geography reframes many planning and public policy debates, touching on such issues as environmental impact, transportation, and urban sprawl.


Metropolitan areas; Population; United States


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Urban Studies




Metropolitan Institute Census Report Series; Census Report 05:01 (May 2005)

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