- Spatial differentiation of population development in a declining region: the case of Saarland
- Geografiska Annaler. Series B. Human Geography
- Volume | Issue number
- 97 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
We increasingly understand the causes of urban population decline: these can be, among others, processes of deindustrialisation, decreasing fertility or the succession of a city through the stages of urban life as the city matures. However, we are still insufficiently able to explain why differences still exist between cities within regions experiencing the same macro-processes and between cities of the same ‘level of maturity’. This research addresses this intra-regional variation in population decline in the declining former mining region of Saarland (Germany).
Quantitative and qualitative analysis revealed that the variation in current decline stemmed from 1) the differentiated population development trajectories of the past, with a massive population boom followed by an aged and declining population in the industrial municipalities, and 2) the spatial distribution of amenities over the region, and 3) the spatial distribution and accessibility of housing opportunities steering migration flows. These housing opportunities are not necessarily concentrated in those areas that are attractive. Rather, the distribution of these opportunities strictly follows the planning logic of the supralocal institutional framework, with a concentration of housing along the main infrastructures and in larger centres. The case study thus reveals that the mechanisms behind this intraregional variation are much more complex than often portrayed in the urban development- and decline debate.
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