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Recent Population Trends in Metropolitan America: The ‘Demographic Disconnect’ and Challenges for Transforming to Smarter Urban Landscapes and Communities

Authors: David Plane*, University of Arizona
Topics: Population Geography, United States, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Population change, Demographics, Metropolitan Areas, United States
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this presentation, perspectives are given on past and current demographic trends for American metropolitan areas. Changing demographics suggest a number of provocative issues and questions for transforming to smarter urban landscapes and communities. The populations and land areas of metropolitan America are dispersed outside the core central cities. The current sprawling structure of urban America is an artifact of the post-World War II baby and housing booms; metropolitan development patterns reflect not only of the rising dominance of automobility, but also the very different demographics extant then than today. A pressing, multifaceted ‘demographic disconnect’ now exists between demography and physical form. Demographic trends are presented for three time periods: the span since the 1946-1964 baby boom; the decade between the 2000 and 2010 censuses; and post-2010. Trends are detailed for components of change (fertility, mortality, international migration, domestic migration) and measures of composition (age, household size, race/ethnicity, income/poverty status). Because demographic characteristics and trends have widely diverged for metro areas in different overall population categories, so, too, are the issues attendant to their demographic disconnects. Within any given size category, considerable variations also exist. The presentation concludes with questions and challenges posed by the ‘demographic disconnect’ for policy, planning, and governance: for forging smarter metropolitan futures.

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