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Are compact cities environmentally friendly?

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  • Carl Gaigné
  • Stéphane Riou
  • François Thisse

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 intra-urban 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 in big cities may be more desirable because they both reduce pollution and improve welfare.

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Paper provided by INRA UMR SMART in its series Working Papers SMART - LERECO with number 10-05.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:rae:wpaper:201005

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

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References

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  2. 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.
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  6. 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).
  7. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2011. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Discussion Paper Series DP2011-15, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  8. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1999. "Deviations from Purchasing Power Parity:Causes and Welfare Costs," Working Papers 0038, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  9. 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. GAIGNE, Carl & RIOU, Stéphane & THISSE, Jacques-François, 2012. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," CORE Discussion Papers, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) 2012019, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. WUNSCH, Guillaume & MOUCHART, Michel & RUSSO, Federica, 2012. "Functions and mechanisms in structural-modelling explanations," CORE Discussion Papers, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) 2012056, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. Dascher, Kristof, 2013. "City Silhouette, World Climate," MPRA Paper 48375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2012. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally (and Socially) Desirable ?," Cahiers de recherche CREATE 2012-4, CREATE.
  6. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New economic geography and the city," Working Papers 188884, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  7. Martin F. Quaas & Sjak Smulders, 2012. "Brown Growth, Green Growth, and the Efficiency of Urbanization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4044, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. repec:ags:ulavwp:121692 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.
  11. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.
  12. 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, European Association of Agricultural Economists 114350, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  13. Anthony M. Yezer & William Larson, 2014. "The Energy Implications of City Size and Density," Working Papers, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy 2014-16, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

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