Shrink Smart - The Governance of Shrinkage


The challenges to be met by cities and their hinterland across Europe are, however, radically different among different types of urban regions. While a considerable share of “urban Europe” has been growing during the last decades and continues to do so, other urban regions have been suffering from deindustrialisation, population loss and decay for decades. Nearly one third of all Europe’s cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants have at least undergone one decade of population decline in the last 45 years. Whereas some of these cities have been loosing population ever since the 1960ies the majority of cases started declining only in the 1980s and 1990s. While population losses and economic decline can also be found in numerous Western and Southern European cities, they are especially pronounced in Central Eastern and Eastern Europe. Here, declining urban population numbers are rather the normal case than the exception.
Shrinkage has thus become a new normality for a growing number of European cities and urban regions. It is a result of different but strongly interconnected processes, i.e. uneven economic development, demographic change al well as shifts in land and resource use, urban form, housing preferences and lifestyles. As these drivers of shrinkage will increasingly impact on urban and regional development in the future, shrinkage clearly represents a key regional development challenge in Europe and implies major consequences for the economic, social, political and cultural potentials of the affected areas. Recent statistics show that processes of shrinkage will even gain more importance over the next decades: According to estimations by the UN, the population of western, northern and – most of all – southern Europe will decrease. Current calculations of the UN predict a decline in Europe’s population from 729 million (2000) to 628 million people in 2050.


Document downloads

The latest work package reports and policy briefs are now available as pfd-files.

Shrink Smart Documents

Photo gallery

Have a look at the case study cities in the Photo gallery.

Shrink Smart Photo gallery

Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities