What Is More Important to Residents: A City’s Attractiveness or Citizens’ Residential Satisfaction? An Analysis of the Explanatory Attributes in Shrinking Cities of Portugal

  • Ana Paula BarreiraEmail author
  • Maria Helena Guimarães
  • Thomas Panagopoulos
Part of the Community Quality-of-Life and Well-Being book series (CQLWB)


Research into shrinking cities (population decline) has captured the attention of scholars as the phenomenon spreads in Europe. Empirical studies have shown that residents in shrinking cities experience satisfaction from living in cities with declining populations. This paper examines how inhabitants in shrinking cities assess their level of residential satisfaction and the features that make their city attractive, using a face-to-face questionnaire survey (N = 701) conducted in four Portuguese cities that have been experiencing population decline over the last two decades (1991–2011). The results show that individuals’ levels of residential satisfaction are high in shrinking cities. Inhabitants’ expressed level of residential satisfaction does not mean that they are not confronted with residential issues that may impel them to move out of the cities. As such, assessing residential satisfaction may be different from measuring the attractive and unattractive features of a city as a place to live. The attributes of the cities that gave higher levels of residential satisfaction varied substantially between cities, but the most important attributes for making cities attractive places in which to live varied only slightly. When respondents were asked about the existing attributes that may impel individuals to move out, economic attributes emerged as the most important, but in only a few cases were those attributes related to residential dissatisfaction. Accordingly, no single answer can be provided to the question of whether a city’s attractiveness or citizens’ residential satisfaction matters more. Either the former or the latter may be considered more important depending on whether shrinkage reversion or shrinkage acceptance, respectively, is the strategy adopted by a particular city.


Residential satisfaction City attractiveness Residents’ attachment Shrinking cities Correlation analysis Portugal 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Paula Barreira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Helena Guimarães
    • 2
  • Thomas Panagopoulos
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of EconomyUniversity of AlgarveFaroPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas (ICAAM)Universidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of AlgarveFaroPortugal

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