Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #665

Ageing by Feet? Regional Migration, Neighbourhood Choice and Local Demographic Change in German Cities

by Uwe Neumann

RWI, 12/2016, 28 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-771-7 DOI: 10.4419/86788771



In countries with an ageing population, regional migration may accentuate local progress in demographic change. This paper investigates whether and to what extent diversity in ageing among urban neighbourhoods in Germany was reinforced by regional migration during the past two decades. The old-industrialised Ruhr in North Rhine- Westphalia serves as a case study representing an advanced regional stage in ageing. The analysis proceeds in two steps. First, variation in the pace of neighbourhood-level demographic change over the period 1998-2008 is examined using KOSTAT, an annual time series compiled by municipal statistical offices. Second, a discrete choice model of household location preferences is applied to study the underlying demographic sorting process. The second step draws on microdata from a representative population survey carried out in 2010. During the 1990s and 2000s, in contrast to earlier decades, age differentials in location preferences became more profound and city centres became more popular as residential location. Rapid “ageing by feet” now affects neighbourhoods, where the influx is low, particularly low-density housing areas of the outer urban zone. Neighbourhood-level demographic sorting proceeds at a somewhat slower pace in the Ruhr than in the more prosperous cities of the nearby Rhineland (Bonn, Cologne and Dusseldorf). In the process of regional adaptation to demographic change, greater diversity in the age structure of neighbourhood populations may turn out to be an advantage in the long-run competition over mobile households.

JEL-Classification: C21, C25, O18, R23

Keywords: Ageing; segregation; neighbourhood sorting; discrete choice