In recent times, headlines like “Depopulation in Peripheral Regions”, “Rural Areas: Old People´s Homes of Our Society?” or “Cities as Melting Pots?” have been drawing attention to the demographic changes that are now affecting all European countries. Demographic change and its complex effects have been addressed for a number of years now as a challenge to urban and regional studies. Shrinkage, ageing, and diversification of the population are not evenly distributed in space – cities and regions follow different development paths. Increasingly, conditions of economic competitiveness, quality of life, ecological carrying capacity, technical and social infrastructures, and opportunities for political and societal participation differ between cities and regions. Social and spatial inequalities are to be seen not as exceptions to the rule but as the outcome of current demographic changes and key elements in spatial development. Polarisation and pluralisation possibly go hand in hand in urban and regional development.
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