Urban decay (also known as urban rot, urban death and urban blight) is the sociological process by which a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. It may feature deindustrialization, depopulation or deurbanization, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings or infrastructure, high local unemployment, increased poverty, fragmented families, low overall living standards or quality of life, political disenfranchisement, crime, elevated levels of pollution, and a desolate cityscape known as greyfield land or urban prairie.
Since the 1970s and 1980s, urban decay has been a phenomenon associated with some Western cities, especially in North America and parts of Europe. Cities have experienced population flights to the suburbs and exurb commuter towns; often in the form of white flight. Another characteristic of urban decay is blight—the visual, psychological, and physical effects of living among empty lots, buildings and condemned houses.
Urban decay has no single cause; it results from combinations of inter-related socio-economic conditions—including the city's urban planning decisions, the poverty of the local populace, the construction of freeway roads and rail road lines that bypass—or run through—the area, depopulation by suburbanization of peripheral lands, real estate neighborhood redlining, and immigration restrictions.
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