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Are compact cities environmentally friendly?

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  • Gaigné, Carl
  • Riou, Stéphane
  • Thisse, Jacques-François

Abstract

There is a wide consensus among international institutions and national governments in favor of compact (i.e. densely populated) cities as a way to improve the ecological performance of the transport system. Indeed, when both the intercity and intra-urban distributions of activities are given, a higher population density makes cities more environmentally friendly because the average commuting length is reduced. However, when we account for the possible relocation of activities within and between cities in response to a higher population density, the latter may cease to hold. Indeed, an increasing-density policy affects prices, wages and land rents, which in turn incentivizes firms and households to change place. This reshapes the urban system in a way that may generate a higher level of pollution. Thus, although an increase in compactness is environmentally desirable when locations are given, compactness may not be environmentally-friendly when one accounts for the general equilibrium effects generated by such a policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 72 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 123-136

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:72:y:2012:i:2:p:123-136

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622905

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Keywords: Greenhouse gas; Commuting costs; Transport costs; Cities;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2010. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Working Papers 1001, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Kristof Dascher, 2013. "Climate Change and Urban Contours: Why Countries with Denser City Centers Fight Climate Change Harder," ERSA conference papers ersa13p744, European Regional Science Association.
  3. de Cara, Stephane & Fournier, Anne & Gaigne, Carl, 2011. "Feeding the Cities and Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Beyond the Food Miles Approach," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114350, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  4. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New economic geography and the city," Working Papers 188884, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  5. Jaume Masip Tresserra, 2013. "Sub-centres and Urban Inequality: A study on Social Equity in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region," ERSA conference papers ersa13p64, European Regional Science Association.
  6. Gaigne, Carl & Riou, Stephane & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2012. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally (and Socially) Desirable?," Working Papers 121692, University of Laval, Center for Research on the Economics of the Environment, Agri-food, Transports and Energy (CREATE).
  7. WUNSCH, Guillaume & MOUCHART, Michel & RUSSO, Federica, 2012. "Functions and mechanisms in structural-modelling explanations," CORE Discussion Papers 2012056, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  8. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.
  9. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.
  10. Martin F. Quaas & Sjak Smulders, 2012. "Brown Growth, Green Growth, and the Efficiency of Urbanization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4044, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Rainald Borck, 2014. "Will Skyscrapers Save the Planet? Building Height Limits and Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4773, CESifo Group Munich.

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