This paper asks whether meaningful differentiations between small and medium-sized cities – “regional second cities” – can be constructed based on their demographic composition, and how these cities differ among each other and from core cities. We differentiate between 64 regional second cities in eight British city-regions, based on their relative proportion of demographic groups developed by the 2011 ONS census and mapped by the BODMAS/Datashine project. First, we conduct a k-means cluster analysis using R to extract demography-based city typologies. Second, we look for regularities within and contrasts between the three resulting clusters to test whether these typologies are meaningful. Third, we compare population diversity and the representation of specific demographic groups in second cities and core cities. The results confirm that it is possible to meaningfully differentiate among cities based on demographic profile, reveal systematic differences between core and second cities across the UK, identify challenges in specific second city types and discuss their positionality and engagement in city-regional dynamics
The R-based k-means cluster analysis could be done again for the same set of cities with more recent data (e.g. 2021 census) or for another set of cities - can we construct demography-based city typologies in general is that an exceptional situation valid only for some types of cities? Therefore, attempting to reproduce the results is important.
While the R-based clustering should obtain the same results (e.g. relative position of cities, cluster belonging), the 2-D visualisation of the clusters added in the paper (R: fviz_cluster) can differ slightly.