Shrinking, ageing, disconnecting? The resilience of (some) Danish small towns

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingsForskningfagfællebedømt

This paper is based on findings of a project investigating the challenges and prospects of Danish service towns with 1000 to 5000 inhabitants (Groth and Fertner 2013). Small towns in general are often associated with being losers of globalisation and suffering under urban and economic decline. Furthermore, in Denmark, many of these towns lost their municipal functions due to an administrative reform, carried out in 2007. However, several small towns seem to be resilient to a general decline. They have stable or even positive development in certain aspects of societal development like demography, participation and associations, or retail provision. They are not undergoing processes of shrinkage but rather of restructuring. In this paper we will analyse and discuss the factors underlying this development and conclude on relevant factors for social resilience.

In particular we look at the development of 250 small towns in Denmark. We apply quantitative analyses of register data, showing the current demographic development of these towns. The first results show that many towns have a stable population development, though with an increasing share of the elderly. The analysis of service provision also shows the persistence of basic services in small towns, especially those located in the periphery. Of special importance is the retailing sector on the one hand concentrating non-food to larger cities but, on the other hand, locating shops focusing on daily commodities in small towns. In 6 case towns we analyse social networks, showing a wide variation of activity in local associations in the various towns. The associations and voluntary capital in the towns lay the foundation for what everyday life can be lived there as they organise common social events, cultural and sports. The associations can also play an important part in more development oriented issues as it is them that communicate with larger municipalities on issues of local concern and they fundraise through holding events for local activities and also for actual physical changes to take place in the towns.

The current socio-economic geography of Denmark is characterised by an ongoing polarisation between two metropolitan areas and the peripheral areas of the country. The combination of demographic resilience, basic service provision, and local networks working with issues of quality of life might enable a future for some small towns, even if they are located peripheral to the big labour markets. We will discuss how far these approaches can enable a development which can withstand the general urban dynamics in Denmark.

Groth, N. B. (ed.) 2013. Stationsbyernes situation, udfordringer og potentialer. En hvidbog (White book on the challenges and prospects of service towns). Centre of Strategic Urban Research.
TiteleBook of Abstracts : AESOP/ACSP Joint Congress 2013
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 2013
BegivenhedJoint AESOP/ACSP Congress 2013 - University College Dublin, Dublin, Irland
Varighed: 15 jul. 201319 jul. 2013


KonferenceJoint AESOP/ACSP Congress 2013
LokationUniversity College Dublin

ID: 47263534