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Population Dynamics and Agglomeration Factors: A Non-Linear Threshold Estimation of Density Effects

Mariateresa Ciommi (), Gianluca Egidi (), Rosanna Salvia (), Sirio Cividino (), Kostas Rontos () and Luca Salvati ()
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Mariateresa Ciommi: Department of Economic and Social Science, Polytechnic University of Marche, Piazza Martelli 8, I-60121 Ancona, Italy
Gianluca Egidi: Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), Tuscia University, Via San Camillo de Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo, Italy
Rosanna Salvia: Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics, University of Basilicata, Viale dell’Ateneo Lucano, I-85100 Potenza, Italy
Sirio Cividino: Department of Agriculture, University of Udine, Via del Cotonificio 114, I-33100 Udine, Italy
Kostas Rontos: Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, University of the Aegean, EL-81100 Mytilene, Greece
Luca Salvati: Department of Economics and Law, University of Macerata, Via Armaroli 43, I-62100 Macerata, Italy

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 6, 1-19

Abstract: Although Southern Europe is relatively homogeneous in terms of settlement characteristics and urban dynamics, spatial heterogeneity in its population distribution is still high, and differences across regions outline specific demographic patterns that require in-depth investigation. In such contexts, density-dependent mechanisms of population growth are a key factor regulating socio-demographic dynamics at various spatial levels. Results of a spatio-temporal analysis of the distribution of the resident population in Greece contributes to identifying latent (density-dependent) processes of metropolitan growth over a sufficiently long time interval (1961-2011). Identification of density-dependent patterns of population growth contributes to the analysis of socioeconomic factors underlying demographic divides, possibly distinguishing between the effects of population concentration and dispersion. Population growth rates were non-linearly correlated with population density, highlighting a positive (or negative) impact of urban concentration on demographic growth when population is lower (or higher) than a fixed threshold (2800 and 1300 inhabitants/km 2 in 1961 and 2011, respectively). In a context of low population density (less than 20 inhabitants/km 2 ), the relationship between density and growth was again negative, contrasting with the positive and linear relationship observed in denser contexts. This result evidences a sort of ‘depopulation’ trap that leads to accelerated population decline under a defined density threshold. An improved understanding of density-dependent mechanisms of population growth and decline contributes to rethinking strategies of sustainable development and social policies more adapted to heterogeneous regional contexts.

Keywords: density-growth curve; urban expansion; municipalities; indicators; Mediterranean Europe (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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