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The Growth Prospects of Mid-Sized/Second-Tier Cities

The growing pains associated with rapid urban expansion have attracted much attention in recent years, with housing unaffordability and straining infrastructure creating headaches for urban policymakers worldwide. If the oft-cited UN prediction that more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be urban by 2050 proves accurate, these growth pressures are not only set to continue, but to magnify.

Much of the focus has been on the implications of this growth for global city-regions, with the challenges facing cities like Shanghai, London, Sydney and Sao Paolo often dominating debates. But given the predicted urbanisation trajectory, it is clear that the scale of growth over coming decades cannot be absorbed by global city-regions alone, meaning this settlement shift will also significantly reshape mid-sized or second-tier cities. As the UN goes on to note (although this fact has received far less attention), cities with fewer than a million inhabitants are already among the fastest growing urban areas, and this trend is likely to continue.

With this future in mind, this Article Collection brings together papers examining the growth prospects of mid-sized/second tier cities, to highlight the opportunities and challenges this growth will bring. The definition of what is considered ‘second tier’ or ‘mid-sized’ is flexible, to accommodate likely variations from one country to the next, but with a focus on cities that are not considered ‘global cities’.

Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The challenges of scalable infrastructure provision in mid-sized cities;
  • The role of targeted immigration policies in shaping the growth of mid-sized cities;
  • Post-pandemic inter-city migration patterns (including analysis of whether the rise of working from home has facilitated longer-term moves to smaller urban areas);
  • Examining the distinctive risks facing mid-sized cities due to climate change;
  • Strategies for maintaining the liveability of mid-sized cities in the face of rapid growth pressures; and
  • Prospects for mid-sized cities that, contrary to global urbanisation trends, are experiencing population decline.

We welcome both quantitative and qualitative analyses, as well as theoretical contributions that help to frame the debate over the future trajectories of mid-sized cities in coming decades.


  1. urbanisation
  2. urban planning
  3. urban growth
  4. second-tier cities
  5. mid-sized cities

Manuscript deadline: 17 May 2024

About the Guest Advisor

Laura Crommelin is a Senior Lecturer in the City Planning Program at UNSW Sydney, teaching planning law and governance and working on research related to urban and housing policy. She is also a Fellow at UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre. Laura’s research interests cover a range of trends and issues in post-industrial cities, including urban renewal, urban governance, digital disruptions (e.g. Airbnb), place branding, and DIY urban revitalisation practices. She holds a PhD in urban planning from UNSW, an M.Litt in US Studies from the University of Sydney and a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

Dr. Crommelin has no conflict of interest to disclose.

See the call on the journal page: The growth prospects of mid-sized/second-tier cities

All Regional Studies, Regional Science articles will be made freely and permanently available online through gold open access publication following payment of an Article Publication Charge (APC).

The standard article publishing charge (APC) for this journal is $1860 USD / £1460 / €1695 / $2540 AUD, plus VAT or other local taxes where applicable in your country. There is no submission charge.

A 20% discount on the APC is available for members of the RSA submitting to the journal. Please email for the discount code.


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