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Are compact cities environmentally friendly?

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Author Info

  • Carl Gaigné

    (INRA-ESR - Unité d'économie et de sociologie rurales - INRA)

  • Stéphane Riou

    (GATE Lyon Saint-Etienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

  • Jacques-François Thisse

    (CORE - Université Catholique de Louvain)

Abstract

There is a large consensus among international institutions and national governments to favor urban-containment policies - the compact city - as a way to reduce the ecological footprint of cities. This approach overlooks the following basic trade-off: the concentration of activities decreases the ecological footprint stemming from commodity shipping between cities, but it increases emissions of greenhouse gas by inducing longer worktrips. What matters for the ecological footprint of cities is the mix between urban density and the global pattern of activities. As expected, when both the intercity and intraurban distributions of activities are given, a higher urban density makes cities more environmentally friendly and raises global welfare. However, once we account for the fact that cities may be either monocentric or polycentric as well as for the relocation of activities between cities, the relationship between density and the ecological footprints appears to be much more involved. Indeed, because changes in urban density affect land rents and wages, firms are incited to relocate, thus leading to new commuting patterns. We show policies that favor the decentralization of jobs in big cities may reduce global pollution and improve global welfare.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00456610.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00456610

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Related research

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

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References

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  1. Tabuchi, Takatoshi, 1998. "Urban Agglomeration and Dispersion: A Synthesis of Alonso and Krugman," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 333-351, November.
  2. GAIGNE, Carl & RIOU, Stéphane & THISSE, Jacques-François, 2012. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," CORE Discussion Papers 2012019, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Haufler, Andreas & Wooton, Ian, 2010. "Competition for firms in an oligopolistic industry: The impact of economic integration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 239-248, March.
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  7. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2010. "The greenness of cities: Carbon dioxide emissions and urban development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 404-418, May.
  8. Cavailhes, Jean & Gaigne, Carl & Tabuchi, Takatoshi & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2007. "Trade and the structure of cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 383-404, November.
  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. Engel, Charles & Rogers, John H., 2001. "Deviations from purchasing power parity: causes and welfare costs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 29-57, October.
  11. 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.
  12. James Brander & Paul Krugman, 1980. "A "Reciprocal Dumping" Model of International Trade," Working Papers 405, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  13. 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).
  14. Kahn, Matthew E. & Schwartz, Joel, 2008. "Urban air pollution progress despite sprawl: The "greening" of the vehicle fleet," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 775-787, May.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Muniz, Ivan & Galindo, Anna, 2005. "Urban form and the ecological footprint of commuting. The case of Barcelona," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 499-514, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New economic geography and the city," Working Papers 188884, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  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. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2012. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally (and Socially) Desirable ?," Cahiers de recherche CREATE 2012-4, CREATE.
  5. Dascher, Kristof, 2013. "City Silhouette, World Climate," MPRA Paper 48375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.
  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. Martin F. Quaas & Sjak Smulders, 2012. "Brown Growth, Green Growth, and the Efficiency of Urbanization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4044, CESifo Group Munich.
  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. 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.
  11. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.

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