Skip to main content

Demographic Change in Medium-Sized Cities: Evidence from the 2000 Census


Analyses of 2000 Census data have revealed dramatic demographic changes in big-city America during the 1990s, stimulating a national conversation about what these shifts might portend. A more complete understanding of urban growth dynamics requires a look beyond only the nation’s largest cities, however. This survey examines population trends in 100 medium-sized cities – both traditional ‘central cities’ and those that are ‘satellites’ to larger cities in their region. It reveals that they, too, are experiencing significant change: Some are losing population, while others are coping with extreme growth; nearly all are more racially and ethnically diverse than a decade ago. The competitiveness of these smaller cities in the years ahead hinges on how well they are able to confront the challenges, and exploit the opportunities, these changes present.

Get daily updates from Brookings