Supporting Shrinkage

Better Planning and Decision-Making for Legacy Cities

By Michael P. Johnson, Justin B. Hollander, Eliza W. Kinsey, and George R. Chichirau
Assisted by Charla Burnett

Subjects: Public Policy, Urban And Regional Planning
Hardcover : 9781438483450, 276 pages, August 2021
Paperback : 9781438483467, 276 pages, January 2022

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Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures

1. Planning, Technology, and Shrinking Cities

2. What Can Data and Technology Do for Shrinking Cities and Distressed Communities?

3. Three Shrinking Cities: History, Practice, Data, and Technology

4. Data and Modeling Preliminaries: An Application to Fall River, Massachusetts

5. Shrinking City Data and Decision Modeling: Baltimore, Maryland

6. Technology, Data, and Community-Building Where People Matter

7. Lessons Learned: How Can Data, Models, and Technology Support Shrinking Cities and Distressed Communities?

Works Cited
About the Authors

Demonstrates how residents can play a leading role in the positive transformation of their communities in the face of economic and population decline.


Supporting Shrinkage describes a new approach to citizen-engaged, community-focused planning methods and technologies for cities and regions facing decline, disinvestment, shrinkage, and social and physical distress. The volume evaluates the benefits and costs of a wide range of analytic approaches for designing policy and planning interventions for shrinking cities and distressed communities. These include collaborative planning, social media, civic technology, game design, analytics, decision modeling and decision support, and spatial analysis. The authors present case studies of three US cities addressing shrinkage and decline, with a focus on issues of social justice, democratization of knowledge, and local empowerment. Proposed as a solution is an approach that puts community engagement and empowerment at the center, combined with data and technology innovations. The authors argue that decisions informed by qualitative and quantitative data and analytic methods, implemented through accessible and affordable technologies, and based on notions of social impact and social justice, can enable residents to play a leading role in the positive transformation of shrinking cities and distressed communities.

Michael P. Johnson is Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Justin B. Hollander is Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University. Eliza W. Kinsey is Associate Research Scientist in Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. George R. Chichirau is Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University.


"The book should be of interest to a wide range of practitioners and civic leaders as well as scholars in urban planning, public administration, urban geography, and urban studies … In offering bold, prescriptive, and detailed ideas for community-based interventions, clear examples, forthright reflections on the challenges of implementation, and in making a very persuasive case for using decision sciences in planning applications, this book fills a large and long-standing gap." — Journal of Urban Affairs

"Supporting Shrinkage provides a compelling legacy cities literature search and a legacy cities social equity conversation … Supporting Shrinkage is a great addition to a planning library." — Journal of Planning Literature