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Population decline, infrastructure and sustainability

Uemura, Tetsuji (2014) Population decline, infrastructure and sustainability. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Japan has experienced population decline since 2010 and the situation is expected to become more severe after 2030 with forecasts indicating an expected 30% decline from 2005 to 2055. Many other developed countries such as Germany and Korea are also experiencing depopulation. These demographic changes are expected to affect society at many levels such as labour markets decline, increased tax burden to sustain pension systems, and economic stagnation. Little is known however about the impacts of population decline on man-made physical infrastructure, such as possible deterioration of current infrastructure or increased financial burden of sustaining it. Infrastructure can be classified into 3 categories: point-type (e.g. buildings), point-network type (e.g. water supply) and network type (e.g. road). The impact of depopulation may vary according to the type of infrastructure. Previous research in this area has been limited in scope (e.g. case studies conducted in a single city focusing on a single type of infrastructure) and method (e.g. most research in the topic has been qualitative). This thesis presents a new comprehensive study on the impacts of population decline on infrastructure in Japan, taking into account all types of infrastructure and using a quantitative approach. Data collection methods include interviews and two large scale questionnaire surveys, the first conducted with municipalities and the second, a stated preference survey, conducted with members of the public. The goal of sustainable development is relevant even in a depopulated society, and hence a sustainable development framework is applied to the analysis where social, economic, environmental and engineering impacts are investigated. The main findings indicate that some infrastructure impacts observed and reported in depopulated areas do not seem to be related to any population decline; moreover, the preferences of citizens for infrastructure development is very similar between depopulated areas and non-depopulated areas. The results also suggest that the premises of Barro’s overlapping generations model, very relevant to a discussion of intergenerational decision making and related sustainability, appear to be rejected in this context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Tetsuji Uemura
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment

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