European Journal of Population

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 1–28 | Cite as

Re-urbanizing the European City: A Multivariate Analysis of Population Dynamics During Expansion and Recession Times

  • Luca SalvatiEmail author
  • Pere Serra
  • Massimiliano Bencardino
  • Margherita Carlucci


After a long phase of suburbanization promoting economic decentralization and uneven expansion of urban rings, re-urbanization has been observed in an increasing number of European cities. However, a comprehensive analysis of demographic dynamics underlying spatial patterns—and factors—of re-urbanization is still lacking for the European continent. This study contributes to fill this knowledge gap by proposing a comparative analysis of population dynamics at two spatial scales (‘inner cities’ and ‘large urban zones’) in 129 European metropolitan regions under economic expansion (2000–2007) and recession (2008–2014). Non-parametric correlations, principal component analysis, and stepwise multiple regressions were used to identify different spatial patterns of population growth at continental and regional scale in Europe. The number of cities studied that showed a trend towards re-urbanization increased from 36 in 2000–2007 to 47% in 2008–2014. Positive rates of population growth in inner cities were found to be associated with high levels of disposable per capita income at the metropolitan scale. During recession, spatial differences in population growth rates were suggestive of a moderate rearrangement towards re-urbanization in northern and central Europe and less polarized metropolitan regions, with declining population in inner cities of southern and eastern Europe. Based on peculiar demographic dynamics found in the study area, the analysis performed brings useful insights to the debate about the future development of European cities.


Population dynamics Inner city Large urban zones Data mining 


  1. Allen, J., Barlow, J., Leal, J., Maloutas, T., & Padovani, L. (2004). Housing in southern Europe. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Andersen, H. T., Møller-Jensen, L., & Engelstoft, S. (2011). The end of urbanization? Towards a new urban concept or rethinking urbanization. European Planning Studies, 19(4), 595–611.Google Scholar
  3. Angel, S., Parent, J., Civco, D. L., Blei, A., & Potere, D. (2011). The dimensions of global urban expansion: Estimates and projections for all countries, 2000–2050. Progress in Planning, 75, 53–107.Google Scholar
  4. Arapoglou, V. P., & Sayas, J. (2009). New facets of urban segregation in southern Europe—Gender, migration and social class change in Athens. European Urban and Regional Studies, 16(4), 345–362.Google Scholar
  5. Barke, M., & Clarke, J. (2016). Residential growth in Newcastle upon Tyne’s city centre: The role of the public and private sectors. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 31(1), 141–166.Google Scholar
  6. Bayona-Carrasco, J., & Gil-Alonso, F. (2012). Suburbanisation and international immigration: The case of the Barcelona metropolitan region (1998–2009). Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geographie, 103(3), 312–329.Google Scholar
  7. Beauregard, R. A. (2009). Urban population loss in historical perspective: United States, 1820–2000. Environment and Planning A, 41(3), 514–523.Google Scholar
  8. Bencardino, M. (2015). Consumo di suolo e sprawl urbano: Drivers ed azioni politiche di contrasto. Bollettino della Società Geografica Italiana, Serie XIII, VIII(2), 217–237.Google Scholar
  9. Bettencourt, L. M., Lobo, J., Helbing, D., Kühnert, C., & West, G. B. (2007). Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(17), 7301–7306.Google Scholar
  10. Bouzarovski, S., Haase, A., Hall, R., Kabisch, S., Steinführer, A., & Ogden, P. E. (2010). Household structure, migration trends and residential preferences in inner-city Leon, Spain: Unpacking the demographies of reurbanization. Urban Geography, 31, 211–235.Google Scholar
  11. Butler, T. (2007). Re-urbanizing London Docklands: Gentrification, suburbanization or new urbanism? International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 31(4), 759–781.Google Scholar
  12. Buzar, S., Ogden, P., Hall, R., Haase, A., Kabisch, S., & Steinführer, A. (2007). Splintering urban populations: Emergent landscapes of reurbanisation in four European cities. Urban Studies, 44(4), 651–677.Google Scholar
  13. Capello, R., Caragliu, A., & Fratesi, U. (2015). Spatial heterogeneity in the costs of the economic crisis in Europe: Are cities sources of regional resilience? Journal of Economic Geography, 15(5), 951–972.Google Scholar
  14. Carlucci, M., Grigoriadis, E., Rontos, K., & Salvati, L. (2016). Revisiting an hegemonic concept: Long-term ‘Mediterranean Urbanization’ in between city re-polarization and metropolitan decline. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy. Scholar
  15. Catalàn, B., Sauri, D., & Serra, P. (2008). Urban sprawl in the Mediterranean? Patterns of growth and change in the Barcelona metropolitan region 1993–2000. Landscape and Urban Planning, 85, 174–184.Google Scholar
  16. Champion, A. G. (2001). A changing demographic regime and evolving poly-centric urban regions: Consequences for the size, composition and distribution of city populations. Urban Studies, 38(4), 657–677.Google Scholar
  17. Cheshire, P. (1995). A new phase of urban development in western Europe? The evidence for the 1980s. Urban Studies, 32(7), 1045–1063.Google Scholar
  18. Cheshire, P. C., & Hay, D. G. (1989). Urban problems in western Europe: An economic analysis. London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  19. Cohen, B. (2006). Urbanization in developing countries: Current trends, future projections, and key challenges for sustainability. Technology and Society, 28, 63–80.Google Scholar
  20. Couch, C., Petschel-held, G., & Leontidou, L. (2007). Urban sprawl in Europe: Landscapes, land-use change and policy. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  21. Cuadrado-Ciuraneta, S., Durà-Guimerà, A., & Salvati, L. (2017). Not only tourism: Unravelling suburbanization, second-home expansion and “rural” sprawl in Catalonia, Spain. Urban Geography, 38(1), 66–89.Google Scholar
  22. Delladetsima, P. (2006). The emerging property development pattern in Greece and its impact on spatial development. European Urban and Regional Studies, 13(3), 245–278.Google Scholar
  23. Dijkstra, L., Garcilazo, E., & McCann, P. (2015). The effects of the global financial crisis on European regions and cities. Journal of Economic Geography, 15(5), 935–949.Google Scholar
  24. Fielding, A. (1982). Counterurbanisation in western Europe. Progress in Planning, 17(1), 1–52.Google Scholar
  25. Florida, R. (2011). The great reset. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  26. Florida, R., Gulden, T., & Mellander, C. (2008). The rise of the mega-region. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 1(3), 459–476.Google Scholar
  27. Garcia, M. (2010). The breakdown of the Spanish urban growth model: Social and territorial effects of the global crisis. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(4), 967–980.Google Scholar
  28. Gargiulo Morelli, V., Rontos, K., & Salvati, L. (2014). Between suburbanisation and re-urbanisation? Revisiting the urban life cycle in a Mediterranean compact city. Urban Research and Practice, 7(1), 74–88.Google Scholar
  29. Haase, A., Bernt, M., Großmann, K., Mykhnenko, V., & Rink, D. (2013). Varieties of shrinkage in European cities. European Urban and Regional Studies, 23(1), 86–102.Google Scholar
  30. Haase, A., Kabisch, S., Steinführer, A., Bouzarovski, S., Hall, R., & Ogden, P. (2010). Emergent spaces of reurbanisation: Exploring the demographic dimension of inner-city residential change in a European setting. Population, Space and Place, 16(5), 443–463.Google Scholar
  31. Hall, P. (1997). The future of the metropolis and its form. Regional Studies, 31, 211–220.Google Scholar
  32. Hall, P., & Hay, D. (1980). Growth centres in the European urban system. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  33. Hatz, G. (2009). Features and dynamics of socio-spatial differentiation in Vienna and the Vienna metropolitan region. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geographie, 100(4), 485–501.Google Scholar
  34. Heikkilä, E., & Kaskinoro, H. (2009). Differential urbanization trends in Europe: The European case. International Handbook of Urban Policy, 2, 25–45.Google Scholar
  35. Helbich, M. (2015). Do suburban areas impact house prices? Environment and Planning B, 42(3), 431–449.Google Scholar
  36. Henderson, J. V., & Venables, A. J. (2009). The dynamics of city formation. Review of Economic Dynamics, 12(2), 233–254.Google Scholar
  37. Hochstenbach, C., & Musterd, S. (2017). Gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty: Changing urban geographies through boom and bust periods. Urban Geography. Scholar
  38. Hohenberg, P. M., & Lees, L. H. (1985). The making of urban Europe, 1000–1994. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Kabisch, N., & Haase, D. (2011). Diversifying European agglomerations: Evidence of urban population trends for the 21st century. Population, Space and Place, 17(3), 236–253.Google Scholar
  40. Kabisch, N., Haase, D., & Haase, A. (2010). Evolving reurbanisation? Spatio-temporal dynamics as exemplified by the East German city of Leipzig. Urban Studies, 47(5), 967–990.Google Scholar
  41. Kasanko, M., Barredo, J. I., Lavalle, C., McCormick, N., Demicheli, L., Sagris, V., et al. (2006). Are European cities becoming dispersed? A comparative analysis of fifteen European urban areas. Landscape and Urban Planning, 77, 111–130.Google Scholar
  42. Kazemzadeh-Zow, A., Zanganeh Shahraki, S., Salvati, L., & Neisani Samani, N. (2016). A spatial zoning approach to calibrate and validate urban growth models. International Journal of Geographic Information Systems, 31(4), 763–782.Google Scholar
  43. Kern, L. (2010). Gendering reurbanisation: Women and new-build gentrification in Toronto. Population, Space and Place, 16(5), 363–379.Google Scholar
  44. Klaassen, L., Molle, W., & Paelinck, J. (1981). Dynamics of urban development. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  45. Kroll, F., & Kabisch, N. (2012). The relation of diverging urban growth processes and demographic change along an urban–rural gradient. Population, Space and Place, 18(3), 260–276.Google Scholar
  46. Lauf, S., Haase, D., & Kleinschmit, B. (2016). The effects of growth, shrinkage, population aging and preference shifts on urban development—A spatial scenario analysis of Berlin, Germany. Land Use Policy, 52, 240–254.Google Scholar
  47. Lauf, S., Haase, D., Seppelt, R., & Schwarz, N. (2012). Simulating demography and housing demand in an urban region under scenarios of growth and shrinkage. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 39, 229–246.Google Scholar
  48. Leontidou, L. (1995). Repolarization of the Mediterranean: Spanish and Greek cities in neo-liberal Europe. European Planning Studies, 3(2), 155–172.Google Scholar
  49. Lever, W. F. (1993). Reurbanisation—The policy implications. Urban Studies, 30, 267–284.Google Scholar
  50. Longhi, C., & Musolesi, A. (2007). European cities in the process of economic integration: Towards structural convergence. Annals of Regional Science, 41, 333–351.Google Scholar
  51. López-Gay, A. (2014). Population growth and re-urbanization in Spanish inner cities: The role of internal migration and residential mobility. Quetelet Journal, 2(1), 67–92.Google Scholar
  52. Marchetti, M., Vizzarri, M., Lasserre, B., Sallustio, L., & Tavone, A. (2014). Natural capital and bioeconomy: Challenges and opportunities for forestry. Annals of Silvicultural Research, 38(2), 62–73.Google Scholar
  53. Martin, R. (2011). The local geographies of the financial crisis: From the housing bubble to economic recession and beyond. Journal of Economic Geography, 11(4), 587–618.Google Scholar
  54. Martinez-Fernandez, C., Audirac, I., Fol, S., & Cunningham-Sabot, E. (2012). Shrinking cities: Urban challenges of globalization. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36(2), 213–225.Google Scholar
  55. Mudu, P. (2006). Patterns of segregation in contemporary Rome. Urban Geography, 27(5), 422–440.Google Scholar
  56. Nyström, J. (1992). The cyclical urbanization model. A critical analysis. Geografiska Annaler B, 74(2), 133–144.Google Scholar
  57. Pacione, M. (2005). Urban geography: A global perspective. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  58. Partridge, M. D., Rickman, D. S., Ali, K., & Olfert, M. R. (2009). Do new economic geography agglomeration shadows underlie current population dynamics across the urban hierarchy? Papers in Regional Science, 88(2), 445–466.Google Scholar
  59. Pérez, J. M. G. (2010). The real estate and economic crisis: An opportunity for urban return and rehabilitation policies in Spain. Sustainability, 2(6), 1571–1601.Google Scholar
  60. Rae, A. (2013). English urban policy and the return to the city: A decade of growth, 2001–2011. Cities, 32, 94–101.Google Scholar
  61. Rérat, P. (2012). The new demographic growth of cities. The case of reurbanisation in Switzerland. Urban Studies, 49(5), 1107–1125.Google Scholar
  62. Rérat, P. (2016). The return of cities. The phenomena of demographic decline and renewal in Swiss cities. Espace, Populations, Societies, 2015(3)–2016(1), 1–20.Google Scholar
  63. Rink, D., Haase, A., Grossmann, K., Couch, C., & Cocks, M. (2012). From long-term shrinkage to re-growth? The urban development trajectories of Liverpool and Leipzig. Built Environment, 38(2), 162–178.Google Scholar
  64. Rontos, K., Grigoriadis, S., Sateriano, A., Syrmali, M., Vavouras, I., & Salvati, L. (2016). Lost in protest, found in segregation: Divided cities in the light of the 2015 ‘Oki’ referendum in Greece. City, Culture and Society, 7(3), 139–148.Google Scholar
  65. Sabater, A. (2015). Between flows and places: Using geodemographics to explore EU migration across neighbourhoods in Britain. European Journal of Population, 31, 207–230.Google Scholar
  66. Salvati, L. (2013). From compactness to what? Long-term population trends in six large Mediterranean cities. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 56(6), 826–849.Google Scholar
  67. Salvati, L., & Carlucci, M. (2015). Land-use structure, urban growth, and peri-urban landscape: A multivariate classification of the European cities. Environment and Planning B, 42(5), 801–829.Google Scholar
  68. Salvati, L., & Carlucci, M. (2016). In-between stability and subtle changes: Urban growth, population structure and the city life cycle in Rome. Population, Space and Place, 22(3), 216–227.Google Scholar
  69. Salvati, L., & Gargiulo Morelli, V. (2014). Unveiling urban sprawl in the Mediterranean region: Towards a latent urban transformation? International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38(6), 1935–1953.Google Scholar
  70. Salvati, L., Sateriano, A., & Grigoriadis, S. (2016). Crisis and the city: Profiling urban growth under economic expansion and stagnation. Letters in Spatial and Resource Science, 9(3), 329–342.Google Scholar
  71. Sander, N. (2014). Internal migration in Germany, 1995–2010: New insights into east–west migration and re-urbanisation. Comparative Population Studies, 39(2), 217–246.Google Scholar
  72. Schneider, A., & Woodcock, C. E. (2008). Compact, dispersed, fragmented, extensive? A comparison of urban growth in twenty-five global cities using remotely sensed data, pattern metrics and census information. Urban Studies, 45, 659–692.Google Scholar
  73. Schneider, F., Kallis, G., & Martinez-Alier, J. (2010). Crisis or opportunity? Economic degrowth for social equity and ecological sustainability. Introduction to this special issue. Journal of Cleaner Production, 18(6), 511–518.Google Scholar
  74. Serra, P., Vera, A., Tulla, A. F., & Salvati, L. (2014). Beyond urban–rural dichotomy: Exploring socioeconomic and land-use processes of change in Spain (1991–2011). Applied Geography, 55, 71–81.Google Scholar
  75. Storper, M., & Scott, A. J. (2009). Rethinking human capital, creativity and urban growth. Journal of Economic Geography, 9(2), 147–167.Google Scholar
  76. Turok, I., & Mykhnenko, V. (2007). The trajectories of European cities, 1960–2005. Cities, 24, 165–182.Google Scholar
  77. van Criekingen, M. (2010). Gentrifying the re-urbanisation debate, not vice versa: The uneven socio-spatial implications of changing transitions to adulthood in Brussels. Population, Space and Place, 16(5), 381–394.Google Scholar
  78. van den Berg, L., Drewett, R., Klaassen, L. H., Rossi, A., & Vijverberg, C. H. T. (1982). Urban Europe: A study of growth and decline. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  79. van Gent, W., & Musterd, S. (2016). Class, migrants, and the European city: Spatial impacts of structural changes in early twenty-first century Amsterdam. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42(6), 893–912.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Salvati
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pere Serra
    • 3
  • Massimiliano Bencardino
    • 4
  • Margherita Carlucci
    • 2
  1. 1.Council for Agricultural Research and EconomicsResearch Centre for Forestry and WoodArezzoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Social and Economic Science“Sapienza” University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Grumets Research Group, Department of GeographyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaCerdanyola del VallèsSpain
  4. 4.Department of Political, Social and Communication SciencesUniversity of SalernoFiscianoItaly

Personalised recommendations