An Exploration of the Sociodemographic and Socioeconomic Dichotomy of Shrinking Cities and Formerly Shrinking Cities in the Context of the Back-to-the-City Movement

Authors: Danielle Kittredge*,
Topics: Population Geography, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: shrinking, city, back to the city movement, downtown, census
Session Type: Virtual Guided Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 53
Presentation File: Download



Within the U.S. in recent decades a renewed interest in downtown and city living has become known as the “back-to-the-city movement” and contributed to the stabilization and regrowth of cities that were previously losing population. This trend, however, is not occurring equally and many cities within the U.S. that have been losing population for decades are still continuing to lose population (“shrinking city”). This study seeks to understand what sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics are contributing the greatest to the back-to-the-city movement in formerly shrinking cities and identify if similar trends are beginning to emerge in shrinking cities. Variables identified through various literature for their association with back-to-the-city movement were analyzed through a proportion composition analysis comparing components of sociodemographic and socioeconomic changes in growing versus non-growing census tracts of formerly shrinking and shrinking cities at the city-wide and downtown level of 86 cities within this study. The analysis was conducted for the time periods of 1970 to 2017 and 1990 to 2017. The results found that that some variables are more characteristic of downtowns versus city-wide irrelevant of the city shrink type or whether the census tract was losing or gaining population, while other variables were more characteristics of census tracts losing or gaining population irrelevant of city shrink type or geographic area. The results conclude that areas within some shrinking cities are exhibiting back-to-the-city movement trends.

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