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Sprawl and urban growth

In: Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics

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  • Glaeser, Edward L.
  • Kahn, Matthew E.

Abstract

Cities can be thought of as the absence of physical space between people and firms. As such, they exist to eliminate transportation costs for goods, people and ideas and transportation technologies dictate urban form. In the 21st century, the dominant form of city living is based on the automobile and this form is sometimes called sprawl. In this essay, we document that sprawl is ubiquitous and that it is continuing to expand. Using a variety of evidence, we argue that sprawl is not the result of explicit government policies or bad urban planning, but rather the inexorable product of car-based living. Sprawl has been associated with significant improvements in quality of living, and the environmental impacts of sprawl have been offset by technological change. Finally, we suggest that the primary social problem associated with sprawl is the fact that some people are left behind because they do not earn enough to afford the cars that this form of living requires.

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This chapter was published in:

  • J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), 2004. "Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 4, number 4.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics with number 4-56.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:regchp:4-56

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    13. Giuliano, Genevieve & Small, Kenneth A., 1991. "Subcenters in the Los Angeles Region," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7xv976dj, University of California Transportation Center.
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    21. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    38. Richard Voith, 1999. "Does the federal tax treatment of housing affect the pattern of metropolitan development?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 3-16.
    39. Edwin S. Mills & Luan Sende Lubuele, 1997. "Inner Cities," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 727-756, June.
    40. Matthew E. Kahn, 1996. "New Evidence on Trends in Vehicle Emissions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 183-196, Spring.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Center City Job Growth Caused by High Quality of Life Downtown
      by Matthew E. Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2011-06-08 14:25:00
    2. Ed Glaeser's "Triumph of the City" is Published!
      by Matthew E. Kahn in Environmental and Urban Economics on 2011-02-10 15:15:00
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