Identifying "Spread" versus "Backwash" Effects in Regional Economic Areas: A Density Functions Approach
Patterns of spatial structural change are investigated for eight Functional Economic Areas in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Residential population density functions are estimated using census tract level data and cubic spline regression methods. Comparisons of 1980 and 1990 density profiles indicate that population decentralization accompanied metropolitan growth during the 1980s. This redistribution was limited, however, to rural tracts at the urban fringe. Population densities were stable or declined in tracts more distant from the nodal center. Thus, backwash effects were evident in most rural areas in the economic regions' hinterlands.