The Spatial Heterogeneity and Geographic Extent of Population Deconcentration: Measurement and Policy Implications

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Contribution to Books

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Publication Title

International Handbook of Rural Demography


Theory suggests the likelihood of spatial heterogeneity in deconcentration and restructuring within regions. Measuring deconcentration for six subregions within a 65-county area surrounding Chicago, this research estimates the varying magnitude and spatial extent of deconcentration. The results allow three primary conclusions: the magnitude of deconcentration does vary across a region; while the spatial extent of deconcentration includes an outer ring of counties (metropolitan and nonmetropolitan) framing the dominant city (Chicago), it excludes more distant counties which have access to both the dominant and smaller cities, and; the set of budgetary constraints facing commuters acts consistently across the study region. Overall, the results indicate that the strict use of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan classifications obscures our understanding of mechanisms of population growth at the urban-rural fringe. The variation in the magnitude of deconcentration cross-cuts and dissects metropolitan boundaries and contains more variation than can be easily represented by two or three groups of counties. The chapter concludes with a discussion of policy implications for counties experiencing deconcentration and those which are neither isolated nor suburbanizing.