Intraurban concentration of people and jobs: have Brazilian inner cities lost their primacy?

Abstract Historical city centers are those regions internal to a metropolis that deserve special attention since, despite their symbolic value, they are prone to fall into decadence and become abandoned. The spatial pattern of metropolitan population and employment determines the locational importance of urban sites, displacement flows and even the vitality of each urban portion of the territory, including the city center. In spite of that, intraurban population location data are available only every ten years. Data on job location, when available, are aggregated and not geocoded. In that context, this article analyses and identifies intraurban population (1991, 2000 and 2010) and employment (2002 and 2013) structures, for 12 Brazilian metropolitan areas, using (a) Minimum comparable Areas to aggregate population Census data and (b) jobs location with identification. Results indicate that there is population loss in metropolitan centers for the 1991-2000 period, partly recovered in the following decade. It is also verified that jobs have spread from traditional city centers, with migration to new central areas. Moreover, the behavior is not linear for each of the 12 areas analyzed and the final spatial result is specific to each of them. This article contributes with the original finding of the spatial location of jobs for the 12 metro areas. Finally, the methodology developed enables a standardized quantitative urban analysis which may support researchers with local knowledge.