WITH its boarded-up skyscrapers in once-prosperous neighbourhoods, and crumbling factories replacing its once-thriving industry, Detroit is the most famous example of a "shrinking city".

But a conference will be told this week that Glasgow and Dundee are among other cities around the world that risk a similar fate.

Shrinking cities, defined as suffering population loss, economic decline and blighted by abandoned buildings or derelict land - will be discussed at a three-day conference at Edinburgh University from Thursday.

Conference co-chair Mark Eischeid said Glasgow was considered a shrinking city over the long-term, having lost half its population since 1961. According to official figures, the city had 595,080 residents in 2012, a drop of 16% since 1981.

Eischeid acknowledged that there had been an increase in population numbers in recent years but added: "With respect to the news regarding the loss of shipbuilding jobs in Glasgow, it's clear that the triggers for shrinkage are still active in Glasgow."

Francisca Lima, who is co-chair of the conference, said Dundee was another example of a shrinking city, losing nearly 13% of its population in the last three decades.

But Karina Pallagst, professor of international planning systems at Kaiserslautern University of Technology, Germany, a keynote speaker at the conference, said Glasgow was a good example of a shrinking city which has invested in its turnaround and created a new image.

The notion that Glasgow is still shrinking has also been disputed by city leaders. Bailie Liz Cameron, executive member for jobs and the economy at Glasgow City Council, said: "While Glasgow's population may be lower than it was 50 years ago, it seems curious to suggest that the city is shrinking.

"The truth is that Glasgow is a growing city: the population has been growing since 2001, from 578,000 to around 596,000 now. Projected figures for the city suggest that this growth will continue in the coming decades, with a population of 660,000 expected by 2035."

Professor Deborah Peel, chair of architecture and planning at Dundee University, said Dundee was also a "city in transformation".

"Dundee had been declining in terms of population, but actually the official statistics now show the city is growing," she said.

"The reason for a city shrinking is, for example, because it has relied on a single economy and if that fails then the city fails - whereas Dundee's agenda at the moment is to have a much more diversified economy and that makes it resilient to any single shock."

Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council's development committee, said while on paper Dundee City had lost population in the last 30 years, this did not take into account factors such as reorganisation of the local government boundaries in 1996.