The changing pace and nature of the spatial distribution of the United States population
This study examines recent population redistribution patterns in the United States in light of two theoretical perspectives. The regional restructuring perspective attributes the 1970's metropolitan-area decline to the economic dislocation of the period. The deconcentration perspective assigns considerable importance to the role of resident-consumer preferences in location decisions. Redistribution hypotheses regarding population redistribution across regions, within regions, and for selected large metropolitan areas were tested. The findings provide support for the regional restructuring perspective.
The 1980's redistribution differs from those of the 1970's. In the 1970's, population in the nation's nonmetropolitan areas grew faster than metropolitan areas, signaling what was known as "counterurbanization". In the 1980's, a return to urbanization was observed with metropolitan areas growing faster than nonmetropolitan areas.
In the Northeast, the 1970's metropolitan-area decline was largely accounted for by the losses of the Middle Atlantic Census division. A decade later, the New England Census division continued counterurbanization, while the Middle Atlantic division reverted to the 1960's urbanization pattern. Within the Midwest, the 1970's counterurbanization took place in the East North Central Census division alone. In the 1980's, this region also reverted to the 1960's urbanization pattern. Within the West, the 1970's counterurbanization was less evident and peculiar to the Pacific Census division. In the 1980's, this region reverted to urbanization. The pattern in the South is different from the other three regions. Here, urbanization was predominant during both decades.
The 1980's redistribution shifts for large metropolitan areas coincided with the regional restructuring perspectives's expectations. For instance, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis which lost population in the 1970's sustained population gains during the 1980's. Likewise, regional redistribution of manufacturing employment coincided with the regional restructuring perspectives's expectations. In early 1970's, the "periphery" regions recorded growth in manufacturing employment, while the "core" regions sustained losses in manufacturing employment.
Increased out-migration from the Northeast and Midwest regions and heavy in-migration to the South and West regions were largely responsible for the interregional population redistribution.
In conclusion, the 1980's spatial distribution in the United States represents a return to urbanization, while the 1970's counterurbanization constituted a temporary spatial phenomenon.