Recent popular and scholarly work has drawn attention to the issue of shrinking cities. In particular, a growing body of literature has focused on the impacts of population loss on European cities, and more recently, the deindustrialized areas of the United States. Fewer scholars have examined the phenomenon of shrinkage in the suburban context. This paper explores the evolution of shrinking suburbs in the United States from 1980 to 2010. Three research questions motivate this study: (1) What is the population change in suburban neighborhoods and places from 1980 to 2010? (2) Where are shrinking suburbs located? (3) What are the trajectories of change of shrinking suburbs? A definition of shrinking suburbs using spatial and temporal criteria is operationalized. Using census tract-level data with normalized boundaries from the Neighborhood Change Database, numerous socioeconomic variables were extracted for the 30-year study period. In total, the results demonstrate that approximately one-quarter of all suburbs were shrinking. The characteristics of shrinking suburbs are identified and a typology of seven trajectories of suburban decline is developed. The conclusion reflects on the implications of shrinking suburbs for sustainable development.
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