In a comparative study of ten Western and four Eastern European countries, van den Berg, Drewett, Klaasen, Rossi and Vijverberg (1982) conclude that different urban systems progress through similar stages of development. Urbanisation, the first stage, is replaced by suburbanisation which gathers momentum, diffuses into adjacent nonmetropolitan areas and eventually causes the decline of metropolitan regions.

“Urban decline, particularly in the nations first to industrialize, thus becomes a development stage neatly explained by economic progress. The Industrial Revolution’s boom areas, such as Ghent, Glasgow, Liège, Liverpool, Manchester, and Saarbrucken were the first evidencing wholesale decline. The larger European industrial cities and capitals, such as Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, London, Sofia, Vienna, and Zurich are situated at later stages of the development spectrum than their lower–order counterparts. The lower–order centers, in turn, are still experiencing the earlier stage of suburbanization. In the earliest development stage of all 103are the East European regions that, not coincidentally, were also the last to industrialize.” 1