Small can be beautiful

Deborah E. Popper, Frank J. Popper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Decline planning strategies are often controversial and difficult. But they have the virtue of acknowledging the reality, persistence, and effects of population decline. Such recognition is a necessary first step that allows planners to think creatively and practically about smart decline, just as they do about smart growth. Some smart growth policies do address decline indirectly, for example by channeling development to brownfields. But such policies are still growth-driven; they assume the inevitability of growth. Explicity, purposefully, planning for less-fewer people, fewer buildings, fewer land uses-demands its own distinct approach. A first requirement is to assess who and what remains and is likely to remain-in essence, to provide a good inventory. It may also be necessary to revise the existing, growth-oriented land-use regulations that no longer apply and may interfere with smart decline. Above all, planners must consider the people who are still there. Those who remain in an area that is losing population often feel left behind, unconnected from the growing parts of the economy. Planners can use stories, regional narratives, to point out the strengths of the region or neighborhoods. In the end, smart decline may be able to turn a difficult situation into something more positive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-23
Number of pages4
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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