Demographic Growth and Shrinkage in Belgium

Isabelle Loris, Ghent University

Although shrinkage has recently been presented as a new challenge for policymakers, there have always been shrinking and growing cities and regions. Especially in the period 1980-2000 many Belgian cities experienced population decline. Nonetheless, Belgium as a whole is characterized as a growing country in comparison to other, mainly Eastern European countries. Nonetheless, shrinkage and growth go hand in hand. As cities shrink, the surrounding areas may grow and vise versa. The many faces of growth and shrinkage display a divers spatial pattern in demographic dynamics. Until now, only in very rural areas shrinkage was persistent, as the major cities revitalized as reaction to renewed infrastructural investments (into renewal of railway stations, city centers, new shopping malls, etc.). The question if shrinkage will occur in Belgium on a broader scale is still unanswered. Therefor we will look at future demographic developments on a districts basis (Belgium) and a municipality level (Flanders).

Presented in Poster Session 3