Visualizing and Understanding Shrinking Cities and Towns (SCT) Research: A Network Analysis

Zezhou Wu, Danting Zhang, Shenghan Li, Fei Jianbo, Changhong Chen, Bin Tian, Maxwell Fordjour Antwi Afari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The world is undergoing an unprecedented trend of fast urbanization, which causes a range of socio-environmental consequences, one of which is shrinking cities and towns (SCT). SCT refer to the cities or towns that are experiencing population decline and economic downturn. In the existing literature, there have been numerous studies on SCT; however, there is a lack of study which investigates its knowledge domains. Therefore, this paper aims to conduct a scientometric analysis to achieve an outline of the SCT research status. Through the procedures of literature search and screening, a total of 716 SCT-related studies were extracted from the Scopus. The VOSviewer software system program was then utilized to visualize the present SCT-related studies. The visualization results revealed that the journal of Sustainability made significant contributions to the SCT research in terms of relevant publications. In addition, Haase, Annegret received the most co-citations, and was also the most productive author in this field. Furthermore, it was identified that current SCT research is mainly conducted in developed countries. Through the analysis of keywords, the emerging research topics were revealed. Discussions were further made from the perspectives of prevailing research methods, evaluation criteria, and solutions for SCT problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11475
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation, grant number 2019A1515110247; the National Natural Science Foundation of China, grant number 72001148; and the Research Start-up Funding in Shenzhen, grant number 000376.


  • knowledge mapping
  • resilience
  • shrinking cities and towns
  • urbanization
  • visualization


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