A Comparison of Urban Shrinkage? Romania and Serbia
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In the scientific literature, urban shrinkage is seen as a process of demographic and economic decline of a city. It is seen as a global phenomenon because of its occurrence in many areas in the world. (Martinez-Fernandez et al, 2012). It also has a specific regional characteristic, being sensitive to local features and contexts. We need to adapt the general knowledge of urban shrinkage to these contextualized levels and compare different entities, a difficult task according to Wiechmann and Pallagst, 2012. It is an adequate approach that is in the need for more attention and that can contribute to the understanding of the phenomenon as a whole. This paper compares shrinking cities at a national level, aiming to understand the local adoptions and to compare neighboring cases. According to Athanasopoulou and Rink, 2013, 42% of European cities are shrinking. South Eastern Europe is a particular case because it has a common history with local characteristics. The countries can affirm the...ir post-socialist present as a transition to a new economic and political situation, having a similar historic development and similar patterns of urban development. Because these similarities tend to overcome national specificities, we choose Romania and Serbia for comparison and present their main characteristics. Each country is presented through a brief history of urbanization, influenced by the recent socialist government. The analysis goes even further and, after highlighting the distinctions, we apply local adaptations to enable the qualitative analysis by uniform indicators, units and spatial limits. The result is an overview of the urban shrinkage situation in both countries. We use a uniform unit for comparison, in terms of urban definition, and this is the Functional Urban Area. Each FUA is characterized by at least 50.000 inhabitants in the recent past and urban hinterlands with at least 15% inhabitants working in the urban core area. Each country is presented by its most shrinking FUA, 8 in both Romania (Alexandria, Onesti, Drobeta Turnu Severin, Targu Jiu, Petrosani, Turda, Dej and Sfantu Gheorghe) and Serbia (Kikinda, Leskovac, Loznica, Pirot, Sombor, Vranje, Zajecar and Zrenjanin). The results show the situation of two countries with different situations. In Romania, the shrinking FUA are scattered all around the country, with no relation to the spatial array of the country. Here, the shrinkage is a result of the mono-functional politic applied to certain areas by the communist regime. On the other hand, in Serbia the shrinking FUA are placed at the periphery, as border regions. It means that the country is more centralized and has a weak national infrastructure. Here, the functions only influence the size of the urban areas, but the shrinkage cannot be necessary related to this aspect. The result also helps for further recommendations, emphasizing the need for special national approaches on the study of the phenomenon. There is a need for a deeper insight in the study of past urbanization in the region, in the context of the regional development. There is also a need for contemporary solutions in a cognitive way, through the intelligent urban governance, the use of simulation and modelling and a better decision-making process.
Keywords:Shrinkage / Demographics / Economics / Romania / Serbia
Source:RRRC 2016, Risk, Reduction, for Resilient Cities, International conference, Bucharest, November 3-4, 2016, 2016, 110-111
- “Ion Mincu” Publishing House