Density-dependent population growth regulates long-term urban expansion and shapes distinctive socioeconomic trends. Despite a marked heterogeneity in the spatial distribution of the resident population, Mediterranean European countries are considered more homogeneous than countries in other European regions as far as settlement structure and processes of metropolitan growth are concerned. However, rising socioeconomic inequalities among Southern European regions reflect latent demographic and territorial transformations that require further investigation. An integrated assessment of the spatio-temporal distribution of resident populations in more than 1000 municipalities (1961–2011) was carried out in this study to characterize density-dependent processes of metropolitan growth in Greece. Using geographically weighted regressions, the results of our study identified distinctive local relationships between population density and growth rates over time. Our results demonstrate that demographic growth rates were non-linearly correlated with other variables, such as population density, with positive and negative impacts during the first (1961–1971) and the last (2001–2011) observation decade, respectively. These findings outline a progressive shift over time from density-dependent processes of population growth, reflecting a rapid development of large metropolitan regions (Athens, Thessaloniki) in the 1960s, to density-dependent processes more evident in medium-sized cities and accessible rural regions in the 2000s. Density-independent processes of population growth have been detected in the intermediate study period (1971–2001). This work finally discusses how a long-term analysis of demographic growth, testing for density-dependent mechanisms, may clarify the intrinsic role of population concentration and dispersion in different phases of the metropolitan cycle in Mediterranean Europe.
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