Across America, dozens of towns have seen their populations shrink in the past few years. For cities like Detroit or Cleveland, the demographic decline started well before the economic downturn. For others, like Las Vegas, it's a brand-new phenomenon. Local governments are trying to adjust to the new reality, and some of them are choosing to downsize. The Kansas City Board of Education voted last Wednesday to shut down nearly half its schools due to dwindling enrollment. And last week, Detroit's mayor announced that the city will demolish thousands of its vacant homes.
Hunter Morrison, a urban planner in Youngstown, Oh., was one of the leading architects of Youngstown 2010, a comprehensive planning effort to make the city smaller, greener, and cleaner.
Ed Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard and director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government.