Economy, demography and urbanization, The urban policy context in mid-sized metropolitan areas – Europe

  • Izabella Barati-Stec


The cases of four capitals, Budapest, Zagreb, Tbilisi and Belgrade presented in this paper help to understand the challenges faced by cities in the post-communist part of Europe. Budapest in Hungary and Zagreb in Croatia are cities in member states of the European Union (EU). Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, a candidate country for membership in the EU and Tbilisi in Georgia is a city in a Eastern Partnership Agreement (EaP). All cities are capitals and not only is their recent history similar, but their early development also shows similarities due to their geographical settings, forming gates between East and West and being melting pots of cultures, religions, and traditions. All inherited a strong vertical hierarchy of political and economic structures and experienced multiple transitions since 1990. The transition from planned to market economy, from one party politics to democratic elections prompted important changes that affected these capital cities. The FDI inflow strongly influenced their economic development after the transition. While their population is becoming older, large cities also started to shrink for several reasons. The fertility rate is falling below the replacement level and instead of people moving from rural areas to the cities, citizens started migrating in the opposite direction. In addition, the urban poor are not able to maintain expensive city housing. The first chapter gives an overview of the four countries’ governance systems and economic development levels. The following sections introduce the four capital cities. Each section follows the same structure, the introduction and history section is followed by the demographic data, then the economic power of the city, its position and relations within the public administration system, the public finances of the country, and of the capital, and finally a discussion of land use issues. Data collection was challenging in many cases. Some cities did not disclose laws or budget information, or only partially disclosed. Some provided all data but merged with abundant non-relevant information and in a format, that makes it impossible to research.

Research Papers