Empirical research on urban shrinkage is being conducted around the globe, since many countries are confronted with the phenomenon of shrinking cities. So far, the research on urban shrinkage has focused strongly on case studies, which is why we can benefit from a diverse and empirically rich knowledge base on the phenomenon and its regional manifestations. By bridging and comparing the European and Japanese academic discourse, we aim to identify the different recurring theories and key issues discussed under the umbrella term ‘urban shrinkage’ and strive to uncover blind spots of the debate. For this purpose, we conduct a qualitative meta-analysis of 100 empirical cases that are documented in the literature dealing with shrinking cities in the EU and Japan. This meta-analysis is based on comparative qualitative content analysis. It reveals a regionally differentiated pattern of various causes, effects and responses documented for shrinking cities in Western, Mediterranean and post-socialist EU countries and in Japan. Based on these findings, we offer an agenda for future research by suggesting an integrative perspective on the context-specific dynamics of urban shrinkage. We argue for an integrative understanding of shrinking cities in order to develop a valid knowledge base for evidence-based policy recommendations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas