Aged Neighborhoods, Youth Neighborhoods: A Dynamic Geography of Aging and Rejuvenation in Large Spanish Metropolitan Areas

Fernando Gil-Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona
Jenniffer Thiers-Quintana, Universitat de Barcelona
Isabel Pujadas-Rúbies, Universitat de Barcelona

Since the mid-1990s, the population of the large Spanish metropoles has strongly grown, especially that of the suburban peripheries. Simultaneously, this suburbanization caused a growing differentiation between the age structures of the (aged) urban centers and their (younger) peripheries. This phase ends in 2008, due to a deep economic crisis in Spain. The main changes have been that fewer foreign immigrants are arriving (external migration growth becomes negative) and a reduction of suburbanization flows. Most of the peripheral municipalities have the smallest positive internal migratory growth in recent decades. By contrast, large urban centers have the smallest negative internal migratory growth in the last decades. Both the cities of Madrid and Barcelona have become attraction poles for young foreign and Spanish internal immigrants. The attraction of highly educated young people reinforces the role of large cities as human capital concentration poles. At the same time, it increases the internal diversification of these cities and gentrification processes in certain neighborhoods (particularly historical centers). Simultaneously, in these cities it has been observed that the currently most aged neighborhoods are those containing large housing developments built in the mid or late 1970s, and where a then young population coming from rural Spain settled. The objective of this contribution –for which Padrón (local register) data will be used at the Census tract level– is to analyze this dynamic Geography of urban aging and rejuvenation between 2001 and 2016, and to observe whether the five large Spanish metropolitan areas (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Bilbao) have similar spatial patterns.

Since the mid-1990s, the population of the great Spanishmetropoles has strongly grown, especially that of the suburban peripheries. Simultaneously,this suburbanization caused a growing differentiation between the agestructures of the (aged) urban centers and their (younger) peripheries. Thisphase ends in 2008, due to a deep economic crisis in Spain. The main changeshave been that fewer foreign immigrants are arriving (external migration growthbecomes negative) and a reduction in suburbanization flows. Most of theperipheral municipalities have the smallest positive internal migratory growthin recent decades. By contrast, large urban centers have the smallest negativeinternal migratory growth in the last decades. Both the cities of Madridand Barcelona have become attraction poles for young foreign and Spanishinternal immigrants. The attraction of highly educated young people reinforcesthe role of large cities as human capital concentration poles. At the same time, it increases theinternal diversification of these cities and intensifies gentrificationprocesses in certain neighborhoods (particularly historical centers).Simultaneously, in these cities it has been observed that the currently mostaged neighborhoods are those containing large housing developments built in themid or late 1970s, and where a then young population coming from rural Spainsettled. The objective of this contribution –for which Padrón (localregister) data will be used at the Census tract level– is to analyze thisdynamic Geography of urban aging and rejuvenation between 2001 and 2016, and toobserve whether the five large Spanish metropolitan areas (Madrid, Barcelona,Valencia, Seville, and Bilbao) have similar spatial patterns.

Our hypothesis is that large differences in age structuresbetween major cities and their metropolitan areas tend to decrease as a resultof peripheries gradually aging while certain neighborhoods of large cities are undergoingrejuvenation processes . For example, between 2001 and 2016, the city of Barcelonasaw an increase in the demographic weight of young people (aged 20 to35) withinthe age structure of the whole metropolitan region, while the demographicweight of the oldest age groups decreased (Figure 1).

For this research, we will use age structure classicindicators, as well as segregation and spatial segregation indices for the fivemain metropolitan areas (Eurostat''s Urban Audit database will be used toestablish the limits of each area). Firstly, attention will be given to thedifferences between large cities and their peripheral areas (see, for example,Map 1, which shows that the city of Barcelona and the rural municipalities havean older population than the municipalities of the metropolitan periphery, thathave a younger population as young couples with children concentrate there).Thereafter, age structure differences between neighborhoods in the main Spanishcities will be analyzed, as will their evolution between 2001 and 2016. Thiswill allow us to not only analyze the influence of the economic crisis on thisdynamics, but also to observe changes in demographic structure due to thesubstitution of the baby boom cohorts by the less numerous generations of thebaby bust.

FIGURE 1. Proportion (%) of the population of the BarcelonaMetropolitan Area who lives in the city of Barcelona, by age groups (populatonof the city of Barcelona / population of the metropolitan area), 2001 and 2016.

Source:Padrón de población (INE).

 

 

 

Presented in Session 1235: Internal Migration and Urbanization