The comeback of the central city in Southern Europe: population growth and sociodemographic change in the Spanish urban cores

Antonio López Gay, Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (CED)
Joaquin Recaño Valverde, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

A new period of population growth has recently started in most of the main central cities in Southern Europe. After more than two decades of population decrease, the urban cores of Madrid, Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Turin, and Marseille have experienced a significant demographic growth. This trend has come to share the reurbanization processes that many other cities in Europe and in the United States underwent during the last two decades of the 20th century. Less intense trends, but in the same direction, have been noticed in other Spanish cities like Valencia, Seville and Bilbao. In Spain, the arrival and settlement of foreign born population in the urban cores have played a key role in the total population gains. Moreover, a growing appeal of central areas for metropolitan residents has also been stated. In this context, inner cities have experienced a remarkable transformation of the sociodemographic profile of their population. In most of the Spanish central cities, young people, single, professional and the highly educated people are more willing to move into and within the central city. However, the family dimension is linked to most of the leaving the inner city movements. This paper aims at analyzing reurbanization processes and back to the city movements that are occurring in the Spanish major cities as well as explaining the sociodemographic renewal experienced by these spaces. The excellent temporal and geographic coverage of the Spanish Register of Residential Movements — a 100% microdata dataset including each residential movement occurred in Spain and the migrant’s demographic characteristics —enables us to explore the first goal from a geodemographic approach. Census 2001 microdata allow us to explain the sociodemographic characteristics involved in the different types of movements.

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Presented in Session 37: Spatial redistribution of population in European countries

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