Examining the thesis of central business district decline: evidence from the Montreal metropolitan area
Much recent North American research has focused on the decline of the central business district (CBD) as the economic core of metropolitan areas, and the corresponding rise of suburban employment centres. According to the literature, this trend is particularly evident in the case of high-order service functions: business services, finance, insurance, and real estate services, and head offices. In this paper, we argue that the decentralization of high-order service activities and the corresponding CBD decline may be neither as strong a trend nor as universal a phenomenon as certain authors have indicated. Rather, the growth of suburban office employment may reflect a strong CBD whose economic base is becoming increasingly specialized. Using data from the Montreal metropolitan area, we first examine intrametropolitan decentralization in a shift-share framework, then document the mobility of establishments and employment. Our findings suggest that, in spite of a certain level of intrametropolitan decentralization, the CBD continues to be the primary locus of high-order services.
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