Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Pavlos Kanaroglou

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The process of population deconcentration has received little attention from a methodological and causal perspective. In the early 1970’s, most western and industrialized nations including Canada experienced an intense movement of the population away from the larger metropolitan and urban areas. As a result, much of the growth during this time period was taking place at lower levels of the settlement hierarchy. In fact, much of the growth in those areas had in the past been characterized by heavy out-migration and overall population losses. Research in the 1980’s has been of a critical nature. There have been two main criticisms. First, there has been a concern with the spatial units of analysis. Secondly, the literature has been deeply divided on the primary causal processes and factors associated with population deconcentration (or concentration). This thesis, therefore, is guided by two major objectives. First, there is a need to identify population patterns and probably causal factors. A comprehensive area classification was developed in order to group individual areas into regional, metropolitan and non-metropolitan components to reflect the influences of different spatial processes (i.e., regional agglomeration, spill-over). This leads to the second objective which is to investigate the association between observed population changes and the different causal factors. A series of multiple regression models was derived to assess the relative importance of the association between independent causal factors and population change in different spatial contexts. Ontario appears to be experiencing a process of both population concentration and deconcentration. From a regional perspective, there is a definite pattern of regional agglomeration into the central and eastern metropolitan regions. It may be possible to interpret the discernable patterns of population losses in the south-west and north as partially reflecting the dominant economic and employment pull of highly urbanized regions. From a metropolitan-nonmetropolitan perspective, it can be concluded that the dominant demographic pattern being observed is one of decentralization rather than deconcentration. Population deconcentration as defined in this thesis is related to growth trends outside of the influence of metropolitan areas. This latter perspective can not be supported in any of the regions, except possibly in the high amenity regions in the central region. In general, the different causal factors hypothesized to influence these observed population growth patterns conformed to the theory. Several recommendations relating to future methodologies and policy matters are provided.

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