The Urbanophile posted an interesting blog this week asking "Are People Really Fleeing Shrinking Cities?". By looking at data of both out-migration and in-migration, the finding is that out-migration rates in rust belt cities are actually lower than average out-migration rates for cities across the United States. This means that people are not leaving Shrinking Cities in droves, which is often the vision conjured by the concept of “Shrinking Cities”. The reason that these cities are shrinking is that they have an even lower in-migration rate (extremely low compared to other cities across the country). Therefore, while the populations are undoubtedly shrinking, it’s not a result of a mass exodus from rust belt cities, but rather a result of very low numbers of new people moving in. See the original blog post for more data and graphs.
This finding is very important for thinking about the needs and policy implications for these cities. Clearly much still needs to be investigated and tested to figure out the right steps forward, but having an accurate understanding of the situation is a crucial starting point.