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Residential segregation dynamics in an ageing region - the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation as a case study

Uwe Neumann
RWI Essen, Germany

In regional research and politics there is an ongoing debate about a supposed “urban paradox”, i.e. increasing inequality and residential segregation among the population of large cities in spite of overall economic growth. In this discussion, so far relatively little attention has been paid to regional and local differences in the demographic characteristics of the residential population. Due to a fairly advanced stage in demographic ageing, it has so far been more characteristic of German cities than of cities in other European countries to combine economic growth with a decline in population figures. Using the largest urban agglomeration in Germany, the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation, as a case study, this paper examines to what extent overall economic and demographic change here is accompanied by changes in the residential composition of cities and neighbourhoods. Part of this conurbation, the Ruhr region, is particularly suited for this analysis, since it has experienced a dramatic restructuring of its regional economy due to the decline of the tradi-tional coal and steel industries, throughout the past decades. As a result of long-term out-migration of younger working-age residents, the Ruhr now represents a highly advanced stage in the demographic ageing process. Based on aggregated data for cities and sub-city districts, this paper contrasts regional and local segregation dynamics in the Ruhr with that of other parts of the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation (Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn), where regional economic and demographic conditions differ from that of the Ruhr to a considerable extent.

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