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Urban Spatial Structure in Barcelona (1902–2011): Immigration, Spatial Segregation and New Centrality Governance

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This paper investigates the impact of the city’s urban spatial structure in shaping population density distribution over time. This research question is relevant in Barcelona because urban population grew at a sustained pace in various decades due to intense immigration inflows. When the urban spatial structure fails to behave as the backbone of population density distribution, population distribution can suffer from polarization problems. We conduct our empirical study using an urban monocentric framework, tracking the different spatial distribution patterns of the overall population and a few selected urban communities in light of the degree of attractiveness of the central business district (CBD). To this end, we construct an original database by each district in Barcelona from 1902 to 2011 and perform an econometric analysis. Our results reveal that the urban spatial structure continued to be a crucial determinant over time for shaping the overall population distribution in Barcelona and in almost all selected communities. However, its importance fluctuated over time, bottoming out in the 1950s–1960s, and whose resurgence was mostly driven by the political initiative to create a new centrality in the urban periphery. This policy reinforced the attractiveness of the CBD, resulting in the de-facto avoidance of urban polarization.




Garcia-López, M. À., Nicolini, R., & Roig Sabaté, J. L. (2020). Urban Spatial Structure in Barcelona (1902–2011): Immigration, Spatial Segregation and New Centrality Governance. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy.

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