Most Densely Populated U.S. States

By Rolando Y. Wee on April 25 2017 in Society

Paterson, one of the largest cities in New Jersey, attracts internationally diverse pool of immigrants.
Paterson, one of the largest cities in New Jersey, attracts internationally diverse pool of immigrants.

Human population density can be measured in the simplest form by using arithmetic density which is defined as the number of people living in an area as in per square mile of a city, state, country, or the world. However, there are several other methods used to measure the density of human populations. These methods are ecological optimum, urban density, residential density, agricultural density, and physiological density. There is also a difference between human population density and the largest population as well as overpopulation. The latter is about exceeding the capacity of the environment to support the population. Several factors may contribute to population density such as a large population in a small land area.

Most Densely Populated US States

The United States Census Bureau is responsible for the counting of the resident population in each US state. Population density is determined after the population count is done. The population densities in most US states are quite low due to the large areas occupied by these states. The availability of modern transportation also allows people to disperse throughout the country. The table below mentions the list of the most densely populated states in the United States.

New Jersey tops the list as having the most densely populated state at 1,210 persons per square mile. Population (2015) 8,958,013 of which 68.6% white, 13.7% African-American, 0.3% Native American, 8.3% Asian American. Second is Rhode Island at 1,022 persons per square mile. Population (2015) 1,056,298 of which 81.4% is White, 5.7% African-American, 0.6% American Indian, 2.9% Asian, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian. Third is Massachusetts at 871 persons per square mile. Population (2015) 6,794,422 of which 83.2% white, 8.8% African-American, 0.5% American Indian, 6.3% Asian American. The fourth is Connecticut at 742 persons per square mile. Population (2015) 3,590,886 of which 77.6% white, 10.1% African-American, 0.3% American Indian, 3.8% Asian. The fifth is Maryland at 619 persons per square mile. Population (2015) 6,006,401 of which 60.8% white, 29.8% African-American, 0.3% American Indian, 5.5% Asian. The next US states occur in the order of population densities are Delaware (485 persons per square mile), New York (420 persons per square mile), Florida (378 persons per square mi), Pennsylvania (286 persons per square mile), and Ohio (284 persons per square mile).

Socioeconomic and Geopolitical Implications

Socioeconomic factors such as job opportunities and better wages are two reasons why human population densities have occurred in recent decades in urban settings. The United States as a developed country has the capacity to absorb new migrants in urban areas. Rural Americans easily assimilate in the American mainstream. However, foreign immigrants have to attend orientations to successfully adjust to the American mainstream.

According to the World Economic Forum, the trend in mass rural migration to urban areas in many developing countries pose a global risk from these cities that could spread around the world in a chain reaction unprecedented a century ago. Plagues and urban order chaos could occur if rapid urbanization is poorly planned. Although the quality of a city’s infrastructure is a good way to determine its resilience and survival against such risks. The development of smart cities is another forethought that could guard against such global risks.

Most Densely Populated U.S. States

RankStatePeople Per Square Mile
1New Jersey1,210
2Rhode island1,022
7New York420

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