Emerging and Persistent Spaces of Shrinkage: The Complex Geographies of Population Loss and Decline

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Organizers: Jason Knight, Russell Weaver
Chairs: Jason Knight


Session Organizers
Jason Knight, PhD, SUNY Buffalo State, knightjc@buffalostate.edu
Russell Weaver, PhD, Texas State University, rcweaver@txstate.edu

Severe population loss, also called shrinkage, affects all types of human settlements regardless of their classification as urban, suburban, or rural. In some spaces, such as the “Rust Belt” in the United States, shrinkage has been at once prevalent in its geographic extent and persistent in its temporal extent since at least the 1950s. For other spaces, emerging patterns of shrinkage appear relatively novel, and go against an affected territory’s prevailing tendencies toward growth and prosperity. That being said, the bulk of research, policy development, and government funding in the name of “shrinkage” has tended to conceptualize the phenomenon as almost exclusively urban in nature and persistent in duration. Much of this work has therefore concentrated on geographic regions that feature a central, so-called “shrinking” city. Crucially, the books are far from closed on the topics of urban shrinkage and shrinking cities. At the same time, however, there is growing interest among scholars and practitioners in patterns of shrinkage and decline that exist outside of urban areas, in spaces that are conventionally described as rural and suburban.

This session is aimed at bringing together scholars and practitioners from across the urban-rural spectrum, to increase our collective knowledge of the patterns of shrinkage and decline, the processes that plausibly generate those patterns, and the tools and institutions that are or might be effective for intervening in those processes to improve living conditions for residents in areas that experienced or are experiencing shrinkage and decline.

The session has two overarching goals:

1. To describe, explore, and explain the geographies of shrinkage and decline in order to broaden our understanding of the phenomenon both within and beyond the “urban” landscape.
2. To explore and inform public policy responses to shrinkage and decline in diverse urban, suburban, and rural contexts.

Toward that end, we invite papers on such topics as:
Methods and models that illustrate persistent and/or emerging patterns of shrinkage;
Actually existing patterns of shrinkage in places—i.e., the juxtaposition of shrinkage, decline, growth, and vitality in the same place;
Policies and other institutions or institutional arrangements, both successful and unsuccessful, that have been implemented in shrinking places in response to causes and/or symptoms of severe population loss or decline.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Jason Knight*, SUNY Buffalo State, Charles Buki, czb llc, Russell Weaver, Texas State University, Rational and Equitable: A Framework for Social Equity in Distressed Cities 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Rachel Franklin*, Brown University, Eric Seymour, Brown University, Will Violette, Brown University, The Landscape of Loss: Connecting County-Level Depopulation and the Demographic Components of Change 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Joseph J. Danko III*, Brown University, Place Promotion Implications of the Demographic Trends Masked by Annexation in U.S. Cities: A Comparative Analysis of the Northeast and Midwest versus South and West 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Dustin L Herrmann*, Environmental Studies Program, University of Cincinnati, Kirsten Schwarz, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Kentucky University, Adam Berland, Department of Geography, Ball State University, Towards a Rust Belt Ecology 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Russell Weaver*, Texas State University, Jason Knight, SUNY Buffalo State, Paula Jones, Texas State University, The Spatial Anatomy of a Housing Market in a Shrinking City/Suburb: The Case of Tonawanda, NY 20 9:20 AM

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