The End of Reurbanisation? Phases of Concentration and Deconcentration in Migratory Movements in North Rhine-Westphalia




Reurbanisation, Suburbanisation, Internal migration, Trends in spatial development, North Rhine-Westphalia


For some time now, there has been a lively debate about reurbanisation in Germany with regard to trends in spatial development. At the same time, the consequences of spatially imbalanced development can be observed in many regions. In large metropolitan areas in particular, the renewed appeal of cities has made living space scarce and expensive. There is extensive investment in residential construction and infrastructure, yet the first signs of a further shift in the trend are starting to emerge. It is against this background that this paper investigates migratory movements in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, covering a period of more than four decades. The resulting change in the distance between place of residence and the nearest major centre is calculated for each case of migration in the time period under investigation. By aggregating the individual values, an indicator is generated that can be used to identify different phases of spatial concentration and deconcentration. The results remind us that for a long time the predominant forces in migratory movements were centrifugal. This makes the transition to the spatial concentration phase that took place in the past decade, and that can be precisely traced from the values obtained, all the more striking. In the final years of the period under investigation, the results are significantly influenced by the handling of the publicly-directed migration of refugees and asylum-seekers within the state. If municipalities with admission facilities for these groups that exhibit anomalous migration data are excluded from the analysis, deconcentration processes appear in fact to be gaining the upper hand again in North Rhine-Westphalia. Renewed momentum in residential suburbanisation in the areas surrounding the major centres is behind this current development. Deceleration of the migratory losses from more peripheral municipalities can also be observed, however.




How to Cite

Osterhage, F. 2018. The End of Reurbanisation? Phases of Concentration and Deconcentration in Migratory Movements in North Rhine-Westphalia. Comparative Population Studies. 43, (Nov. 2018). DOI:



Research Articles