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Spatiotemporal patterns of Shrinking Cities in Europe 1990 - 2010

Wolff, Manuel
Wiechmann, Thorsten
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
At the beginning of the 21st century, the shrinking cities phenomenon is widespread across Europe. The majority of Europe's cities already lose population and the rate is more than likely to increase in future. Most European countries see an increasingly ageing population and internal migration from underdeveloped to more competitive locations. Generally, the long-term development of Europe's cities will largely be conditioned by the birth rate which dramatically declined to levels far below the natural reproduction rate (second demographic transition, Lesthaeghe and van de Kaa 1986) whereas the short-term development is especially influenced by job-driven migration. Selected studies give an idea of the persistence and spatial extent of this phenomenon in Europe (e.g. Cheshire and Hay 1989; Cheshire 1995; Turok and Mykhnenko 2007). However, the state of knowledge on causes, effects, and spatial patterns of urban shrinkage is still poor. We know little about the extension and spreading of urban shrinkage; in particular we lack a cross-national comparative perspective. Every attempt to compare the evolution of cities in Europe is confronted with the heterogeneity of definitions, criteria and statistical data. In spite of the difficulties of a standardized statistical comparison on the local level and in order to narrow the existing gap this paper aims at mapping urban shrinkage in Europe by breaking down demographic processes in Europe to the local scale. Based on a definition of urban areas in Europe and a causal model which was developed and tested in the frame of the COST Action ?Cities Regrowing Smaller' the spatial distribution of growth, stagnation and decline in urban Europe in the period from 1990 to 2010 will be presented. This includes a typology of different types of shrinking cities in Europe which in addition shows the dominance of either migration or natural demographic processes. This analysis proves that shrinking cities can be found in most countries in Europe but with major regional differences with regard to size and speed of urban shrinkage. References Cheshire P. and Hay D., 1989, Urban Problems in Western Europe, London: Unwil Hyman. Cheshire P., 1995, A New Phase of Urban Development in Western Europe ? The Evidence for the 1980s, Urban Studies, Vol. 32, N°7, pp. 1045-1063. Lesthaeghe, R. and Kaa, D. van de, 1986. Twee Demografische Transities?. In: R. Lesthaeghe and D. van de Kaa eds. Bevolking: Groei en Krimp. pp. 9-24. Deventer: Van Loghum Slaterus. Turok I. and Mykhnenko V., 2007, The Trajectories of European Cities, 1960-2005, Cities, Vol. 24, N°3, pp. 165-182.
shrinking cities
demographic change
cross-national comparative perspective
Document Type: 
Conference Paper

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