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The Structure of Sprawl: Identifying and Characterizing Employment Centers in Polycentric Metropolitan Areas

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  • Nathan B. Anderson
  • William T. Bogart

Abstract

This paper applies a consistent framework to four comparably sized metropolitan areas to identify and characterize their employment centers. Employment centers are identified as places that exceed a threshold employment density and a threshold employment level. They are also characterized as specializing on the basis of location quotient analysis. We find clear evidence of specialization in every employment center in the four metropolitan areas studied. Our interpretation is that what we are observing is a systematic change in metropolitan structure rather than a random sprawling of firms. We also find some evidence that the size distribution of employment centers follows the rank-size rule. This suggests that there is structure not only in the distribution of economic activity among the employment centers but also in their size distribution. Because less than 50 percent of metropolitan employment is within employment centers, future research should focus on understanding the more diffuse employment patterns. The rank-size rule gives some guidance as to the expected size distribution of employment throughout the metropolitan area. Copyright 2001 The American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The American Journal of Economics and Sociology.

Volume (Year): 60 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 147-169

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:60:y:2001:i:1:p:147-169

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Cited by:
  1. Ajay Agarwal & Genevieve Giuliano & Christian Redfearn, 2012. "Strangers in our midst: the usefulness of exploring polycentricity," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 433-450, April.
  2. Ivan Muñiz & Anna Galindo & Miguel Angel García, 2005. "Descentralisation, Integration and polycentrism in Barcelona," Working Papers wpdea0512, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
  3. GUILLAIN, Rachel & LE GALLO, Julie & BOITEUX-ORAIN, Céline, 2004. "The evolution of the spatial and sectoral patterns in Ile-De-France over 1978-1997," LEG - Document de travail - Economie 2004-02, LEG, Laboratoire d'Economie et de Gestion, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne.
  4. Anderson, Nathan B., 2004. "Intrametropolitan Trade: Understanding the Interdependency of the Central-City and Edge Cities," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, vol. 34(1).
  5. Miguel Angel Garcia Lopez & Ivan Muñiz Olivera, 2005. "Employment descentralisation: polycentric compaction or sprawl? The case of the Barcelona Metropolitan Region 1986-1996," Working Papers wpdea0511, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
  6. Paolo VENERI, 2010. "The Identification of Sub-centres in Two Italian Metropolitan Areas: a Functional Approach," Working Papers 343, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
  7. BOITEUX-ORAIN, Céline & GUILLAIN, Rachel, 2003. "Changes in the intra-metropolitan location of producer services in Ile-De-France (1978-1997): do information technologies promote a more dispersed spatial pattern," LEG - Document de travail - Economie 2003-06, LEG, Laboratoire d'Economie et de Gestion, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne.
  8. Daniel P. McMillen, 2003. "Employment subcenters in Chicago: past, present, and future," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 2-14.
  9. Redfearn, Christian L., 2009. "Persistence in urban form: The long-run durability of employment centers in metropolitan areas," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 224-232, March.
  10. Genevieve Giuliano & Christian Redfearn, 2005. "Not all sprawl - Evolution of employment centers in Los Angeles, 1980 - 2000," ERSA conference papers ersa05p686, European Regional Science Association.
  11. McMillen, Daniel P. & Smith, Stefani C., 2003. "The number of subcenters in large urban areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 321-338, May.
  12. Ivan Muñiz & Anna Galindo & Miguel Ángel García, 2005. "Descentralización, integración y policentrismo en Barcelona," Working Papers wpdea0505, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
  13. Redfearn, Christian L., 2007. "The topography of metropolitan employment: Identifying centers of employment in a polycentric urban area," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 519-541, May.
  14. William Sander & William Testa, 2013. "Education and the location of work: a continued economic role for central cities?," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 577-590, April.
  15. McMillen, Daniel P. & William Lester, T., 2003. "Evolving subcenters: employment and population densities in Chicago, 1970-2020," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 60-81, March.
  16. Miquel-Angel Garcia-Lopez, 2011. "The accessibility city. When transport infrastructure matters in urban spatial structure," ERSA conference papers ersa10p521, European Regional Science Association.
  17. Carlos Marmolejo Duarte & Carlos Aguirre Nuñez & Eduardo Chica Mejia & Claudia Perez Prieto & Jaume Masip Tresserra, 2011. "Polycentrism in the Spanish metropolitan system: an analysis for 7 metro areas," ERSA conference papers ersa11p119, European Regional Science Association.
  18. Miguel Ángel García & Ivan Muñiz, 2005. "Descentralización del empleo: ¿compactación policéntrica o dispersión? El caso de la región metropolitana de Barcelona 1986-1996," Working Papers wpdea0506, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.

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