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Are Compact Cities Environmentally Friendly?

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

Abstract

There is a large consensus among international institutions and national governments to favor urban-containment policies - the compact city - as a way to improve the ecological performance of the urban system. This approach overlooks a fundamental fact: what matters for the ecological outcome of cities is the mix between the level of population density and the global pattern of activities. As expected, when both the intercity and intraurban distributions of activities are given, a higher population density makes cities more environmentally friendly. However, once we account for the fact that cities may be either monocentric or polycentric as well as for the possible relocation of activities between cities, the relationship between population density and the ecological performance of cities appears to be much more involved. Indeed, because changes in population density affect land rents and wages, firms and workers are incited to relocate, thus leading to new commuting and shipping patterns. We show that policies favoring the decentralization of jobs may be more environmentally desirable.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8297.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8297

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Keywords: cities; commuting costs; greenhouse gas; transport costs; urban-containment policy;

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References

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  1. GAIGNE, Carl & RIOU, Stéphane & THISSE, Jacques François, . "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2404, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Gianmarco Ottaviano & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-FranÁois Thisse, 2002. "Agglomeration and Trade Revisited," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(2), pages 409-436, May.
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  8. Brownstone, David & Golob, Thomas F., 2009. "The impact of residential density on vehicle usage and energy consumption," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 91-98, January.
  9. THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Toward a unified theory of economic geography and urban economics," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2194, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Gaigné, Carl & Wooton, Ian, 2011. "The gains from preferential tax regimes reconsidered," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 59-66, January.
  11. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2004. "Sprawl and urban growth," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 56, pages 2481-2527 Elsevier.
  12. Bento, Antonio M. & Franco, Sofia F. & Kaffine, Daniel, 2006. "The efficiency and distributional impacts of alternative anti-sprawl policies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 121-141, January.
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  14. Jean Cavailhes & Carl Gaigne & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-Francois Thisse, 2006. "Trade and the structure of cities," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-454, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Martin F. Quaas & Sjak Smulders, 2012. "Brown Growth, Green Growth, and the Efficiency of Urbanization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4044, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. GAIGNE, Carl & RIOU, Stéphane & THISSE, Jacques François, . "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," CORE Discussion Papers RP -2404, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Rainald Borck, 2014. "Will Skyscrapers Save the Planet? Building Height Limits and Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4773, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Dascher, Kristof, 2013. "City Silhouette, World Climate," MPRA Paper 48375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.
  6. 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).
  7. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2012. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally (and Socially) Desirable ?," Cahiers de recherche CREATE 2012-4, CREATE.

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