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Modeling Urbanism: Economic, Social and Environmental Stress in Cities

Kent P. Schwirian, Amy L. Nelson and Patricia M. Schwirian
Social Indicators Research
Vol. 35, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 201-223
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27522841
Page Count: 23
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Modeling Urbanism: Economic, Social and Environmental Stress in Cities
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Abstract

The time has come for urban social indicator research to converge with the basic substantive efforts of urban researchers. Such a convergence may propel both basic and applied researchers toward more fruitful outcomes. This paper argues that the traditional model of urbanism provides the medium for the convergence. When urbanism is conceptualized to be multidimensional, seemingly discreet indicators of demographic, economic, social, and environmental conditions in cities may be incorporated into a more general model of urban structure and change. Specifically, using social indicators for 195 cities from ZPG's Children's Stress Index and the 1990 U.S. Census, we show empirically: (1) Urbanism is a complex factor with four distinct dimensions: demographic scale, economic stress, social stress, and environmental stress. (2) These four dimensions of urbanism may be reliably measured with standard composite variables used in today's social indicator research. (3) Within the Urbanism factor there are causal connections among the separate dimensions, the most basic of which is that asserted by arguments from the traditional theory of urbanism; specifically, that population size, density, and social heterogeneity are causally linked to stress in economic, social, and environmental systems of the city.

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