Cycles Within the System: Metropolitanization and Internal Migration in the U.S., 1965-1990

Elliott, James
Working paper no. 1995-21


This paper uses a typology of local metropolitan development to examine population redistribution trends in the U.S. over the past three decades. Theories of systemic maturation and urban life-cycles are discussed. Subsequent analysis of population and inter-county migration data reveals that Deconcentration has become an increasingly common subprocess of local metropolitanization but that this subprocess cannot be adequately explained by a “life-cycle” model of metropolitan development. More importantly, results indicate that metro-based migration varies significantly with local patterns of metropolitanization. The nature of this variation implies that declining metro areas tend to redistribute migrants to relatively distant, nonmetro territory in a manner consistent with extended processes of decentralization.