1988 volume 20(11) pages 1471 – 1486

Cite as:
van den Berg L, van der Meer J, 1988, "Dynamics of urban systems: general trends and Dutch experiences" Environment and Planning A 20(11) 1471 – 1486

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Dynamics of urban systems: general trends and Dutch experiences

L van den Berg, J van der Meer

Received 10 February 1988

Abstract. In this paper we present a general theory of urban development, which we then compare with the developments in the urban system of the Netherlands, for the years 1970 to 1986. We propose that urban dynamics are started by and are continually influenced by fundamental changes in technology, social values, demography, and politics. Each factor will be more significant in one stage of urban development than in others, and therefore a four stage cycle is produced: stage 1, industrialisation occurs; stage 2, the service sector and transport facilities grow; stage 3, there is a greater appreciation of the environment; stage 4, the society tends to an `information society'.

It appears that the Dutch urban system is in stage 3 of these developments: deconcentration of population peaked in the early 1970s and has since declined (under the influence of economic and demographic changes). Dynamics slowed under poor economic conditions, but by the late 1980s, deconcentration increased with the economic recovery. The Dutch system is progressing towards stage 4, with possible revitalisation of large towns by means of new policy.

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