Household size and urban spatial change: end of an era?

  • Robert Sinclair Dept.of Geography and Urban Planning, Wayne State University Detroit, Michigan, 48202,U.S.A


A dominant demographic trend of the last few decades has been the declining size of house-holds in Western industrialized countries. Following closely upon the Baby Boom, the development became a major topic of discussion for almost two decades. The basis for, and consequences of, these changes have been well covered in the demographic literature, but their spatial implications have received less attention. Yet the, phenomenon has had a pro-found spatial impact at every level of the urban system. Recent statistics indicate that house-hold size continues to decline, but does so at a rapidly decreasing rate. The present paper considers the spatial repercussions of this trend. More specifically, the paper has three aims. (1) The paper summarizes and puts into present-day perspective, a volume of research con-ducted a decade ago upon the spatial impact of declining household size upon the U.S. urban system (Sinclair, 1991). (2) Considers more recent demographic developments, ask-ing whether the impact of declining household size upon the urban system is declining or coming to a close, (3) Considers other demographic developments which might he taking the place of declining household size in driving the urban system. In sum, the paper at-tempts to answer the question. Is an era, which has signifycantly impacted the U.S. urban system, coming to a close?


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SinclairR. (2004). Household size and urban spatial change: end of an era?. Dela, (21), 423-435.