Population dynamics in urban and rural areas are different. Understanding factors that contribute to local population changes has various socioeconomic and political implications. In the present study, we use population census data in Japan to examine contributors to the population growth of residential clusters between years 2005 and 2010. The data set covers the entirety of Japan and has a high spatial resolution of 500 × 500 m2, enabling us to examine population dynamics in various parts of the country (urban and rural) using statistical analysis. We found that, in addition to the area, population density, and age, the shape of the cluster and the spatial distribution of inhabitants within the cluster are significantly related to the population growth rate of a residential cluster. Specifically, the population tends to grow if the cluster is "round" shaped (given the area) and the population is concentrated near the center rather than periphery of the cluster. Combination of the present results and analysis framework with other factors that have been omitted in the present study, such as migration, terrain, and transportation infrastructure, will be fruitful.
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