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Angelika Münter (2008)

Who Can Be Retained in the Core Cities? Identifying "Influenceable" Suburban Migrants in Four German Urban Regions*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 33, 3-4/2008, p. 351-380, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s12523-009-0020-7

Abstract: The negative natural population balance is becoming increasingly important for the population size of core cities. For local authorities, however, natural population development is almost entirely outside their field of influence. To counteract the shrinking of core cities, local authorities thus try to influence net migration. Besides interregional migration which correlates with regional economic development, net migration depends on intraregional migration. The latter can in principle be influenced by urban development policy. However, actions taken in urban development have fallen short of planners’ expectations. Accordingly, suburbanisation remains an important issue in nearly all German urban regions. One novel approach to limit suburban migration is to develop strategies for addressing specific target groups. We show that it is necessary to filter out those suburban migrants who would have stayed in the core city under certain circumstances. Our analysis focuses on the question which particular groups of suburban migrants can be influenced by urban development policy with respect to their choice of residential location. In order to address this question, we analyze household survey data for four typical German urban regions (Cologne, Leipzig, Magdeburg and Münster). This survey comprises comparable information on the households’ motives for suburban migration in the four regions. In our approach to identify "influenceable" suburban migrants, the extent to which migration decisions are due to incentives provided by local authorities is described along two dimensions: the household’s search for potential new residential locations in the core city and in the suburban area, and its motives for leaving the core city. Our approach to identify “influenceable” suburban migrants allows local authorities to draw more detailed and more suitable conclusions for urban development policy. The analysis shows that about half of suburban migrants are influenceable by local authorities and that local authorities’ strategies to limit suburbanisation should be concentrated on this group. In a next step, the group of "influenceable" suburban migrants is further broken down by the households’ socio-demographic characteristics and revealed preferences regarding housing conditions. This allows us to identify target groups that are manageable for the decision makers on the local housing market. The results show that the most important target group is constituted by family households that acquire a house. Four out of ten "influenceable" suburban migrants belong to this group. The analysis also shows that the wish to improve housing conditions and to acquire property are the essential driving forces for suburban migration, and that the most important motive for "influenceable" suburban migrants to leave the core city is the financial motive arising from the price differential between the core cities and their surrounding areas. Thus, current urban development policy measures aimed at limiting suburban migration should (continue to) target families and households acquiring property, two groups of suburban migrants which intersect among several dimensions. But beyond a purely quantitative increase in the supply of detached houses in the core cities, new solutions are required to accommodate the financial restrictions of potential suburban migrants. Great importance should be attached to information and advice strategies that inform potential suburban migrants with regard to the cost of living in the core city and in their surrounding area, because our analysis shows that in making their decisions on location, suburban migrants take insufficient account of the additional mobility costs in the surrounding area.

* peer-reviewed article

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