Population of American Cities: 1950-2009

Witold J. Wilczyński, Piotr L. Wilczyński

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/v10089-011-0020-y

Abstract


Contrary to the industrial epoch, cities have been interpreted in the last fifty years as the places facing the greatest economic and social problems. A contrasting view has emerged only recently that takes cities as sites of economic dynamism and social vitality. The paper offers evidence on population change for 118 greatest cities of the United States of America to assess how their fortunes have changed from the 1950s to 2009. Considerable diversity of experience was revealed and seven categories of cities have been distinguished as far as their population change patterns are concerned. These categories range from the continuous growth from 1950 until today to continuous decline. The most dynamic cities are located in the Sun Belt and they are relatively small and new.

On the opposite, the biggest and old industrial centres of the Rust Belt have been losing inhabitants. In general, the pattern of population change shows close relationship with the economic situation and in particular, is connected with the structural changes in society and economy, namely the structural shifts toward more services-oriented economy, and smaller households.

Essentially the paper offers the historical outline of the population changes in the biggest American urban centres. It should be seen as an introduction necessary for the more advanced studies concerning the issues of employment, incomes, ethnic composition, and various social problems which could explain the changing fortunes of particular cities.

 


Keywords


USA; cities; population change

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