Many people ask that question, “Is Hawaii overpopulated?” often and this has been a concern for decades. Hawaii is a beautiful and amazing place. Due to its natural attractive qualities, overpopulation has occurred as a result. Just like New York City, overpopulation can prompt some very uncomfortable living situations for its residents, like traffic. Everyone in Hawaii knows about the traffic, and how much of a pain it can be on the daily commute. 

Hawaii’s overpopulation example #1: Population Density

Population density is a strong economic indicator of how many people are packed into one square mile. It is used as a metric for measuring the severity of overpopulation and how the population is dispersed in a fixed area. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Hawaii’s population in 2010 per square mile was about 212 people. In 2019, that number was 220. That represents the total population divided by the land mass in square miles for the entire state of Hawaii. It’s important to realize that each county has its own population density. In Hawaii, each island is its own county. We have provided the population densities for each island below for comparison. The next national census is set for 2020 so we’ll have a better idea of what the current population density is like in about a year. To compare population density in your town, you can go to the U.S. Census Bureau and get an accurate comparison. This can help conceptualize how packed Hawaii is, compared to your current town.  


Hawaii overpopulated example #2: Poverty Rate 

Poverty rate is another economic indicator of how dense an area is. Although it’s not as accurate as population density statistics, it can show you how many people are “living on the street.” Homelessness is attributed to several factors, one of which is housing availability. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state’s poverty rate in 2010 was 9.8%, compared to the national poverty rate of 11.8%. But again, if you’re thinking of moving to Hawaii, it would be a good idea to compare the poverty rate in your town on the same U.S. Census Bureau site as I linked above. 

Hawaii Overpopulation

Anini beach park by Sebastian Werner is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original

Hawaii overpopulated example #3: Average Commute Time

Average commute time in the islands is 27.4 minutes (data from 2013-2017 for workers age 16+) compared to the national average of 26.4 minutes. So, this can give you an idea of how much traffic will be on the roads during rush hour for everyone’s daily commute. However, keep in mind that this is an average. Your actual commute time could be far more or far less than this. Like I said, compare these statistics to the same data from your own town so you can get a better idea of what your Hawaii commute would be like. 

Hawaii Overpopulation

IMG 0019 by Sun Brockie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

Hawaii overpopulated example #4: Population Growth 

Population growth is another economic indicator of how much the population is growing over a fixed time period, which is a contributing factor to the “packedness” of an area. A rough estimate of the population change in Hawaii from 2010 to 2018 is 4.4% compared to the national average of 6%. Although this is not a high number, it would be a good idea for you to compare this to statistics in your hometown. Everything is relative. For example, a 4.4% change in population for a rural town in Nevada with a population of 100 people would result in a new population of almost 105 people. Everything is relative. 


H1 freeway traffic light trails by 71356546@N04 is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.