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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. 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.
  2. James Brander & Paul Krugman, 1980. "A "Reciprocal Dumping" Model of International Trade," Working Papers 405, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. Gaigné, Carl & Riou, Stéphane & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2012. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 123-136.
  4. 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.
  5. Jean Cavailhes & Carl Gaigne & Jacques-Rrancois Thisse, 2006. "Trade and the structure of cities," KIER Working Papers 623, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
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  8. 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).
  9. Haufler, Andreas & Wooton, Ian, 2010. "Competition for firms in an oligopolistic industry: The impact of economic integration," Munich Reprints in Economics 19925, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2008. "The Greenness of Cities: Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Urban Development," NBER Working Papers 14238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gaigné, Carl & Riou, Stéphane & Thisse, Jacques-François, 2012. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 123-136.
  2. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New economic geography and the city," Working Papers 188884, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Dascher, Kristof, 2013. "City Silhouette, World Climate," MPRA Paper 48375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. 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).
  8. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.
  9. Rainald Borck, 2014. "Will Skyscrapers Save the Planet? Building Height Limits and Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4773, CESifo Group Munich.
  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. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.

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