Tourism specialization, gentrification and residential dynamics in a urban densified context. The case of Barcelona.

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


After a period of demographic and economic decentralization, the city of Barcelona has in recent years become an especially appealing residential space. The convergence of several dynamics, some of them unprecedented, has dramatically increased pressure on the housing market. Shifts in family structure and housing preferences, along with processes of urban transformation, such as tourist specialization and the diversification of uses of housing units, have increased the value of the city’s housing stock. All these phenomena have had an unequal spatial impact and are concentrated in some neighborhoods more than in others. This fact has a number of implications for the population, two of which are the focus of this study: gentrification and the loss of households. Using a quantitative methodology and a demographic and geographic perspective, this dissertation measures these changes at the inframunicipal scale. It uses two types of data: first, demographic data drawn from census and residential registration records; and second, geographic and economic data from administrative records (the land registry or cadastre, lists of businesses, etc.) and from big data sources (Airbnb, Flickr, etc.), in order to describe the features of key neighborhoods. The empirical chapters analyze various aspects of the relationship between geographic, residential, and demographic features, using Barcelona as a case study. The results show, first of all, that the number of single-person households has grown markedly, though this growth is unevenly distributed over the city and shows certain particularities in recent years. Second, the results clearly indicate that tourist activity is not neutral in its demographic impact: in particular, short-term accommodations have an impact on the number of households and on processes of gentrification. Finally, the results show that the presence of Airbnb is not random but rather follows a similar geographic and sociodemographic pattern of spatial penetration in several cities in Spain.
Date of Award22 Jul 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAntonio Lopez Gay (Director), Juan Antonio Modenes Cabrerizo (Director) & Juan Antonio Modenes Cabrerizo (Tutor)


  • Gentrificació turística; Gentrificación turística; Tourism gentrification; Demografia urbana; Demografía urbana; Urban demography; Barcelona

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