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A simple theory of smart growth and sprawl

  • Turner, Matthew A.

This paper considers the simultaneous determination of residential density and the supply of local versus remote retail services. Possible equilibrium development patterns either correspond closely to what anti-sprawl activists describe as smart growth, or to its opposite. Equilibrium and optimal patterns of development do not always coincide. When equilibrium and optimal patterns of development diverge, optimal density is always discretely (as opposed to marginally) higher than equilibrium density. This occurs in the absence of congestion externalities, and is due to a free-rider problem and a coordination problem. The analysis indicates that a tax on large lots or a subsidy for small lots may be welfare improving under certain conditions.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WMG-4KDBKXP-1/2/bfbdf12eec5efc0c7db9f0488556fb13
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 61 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 21-44

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:61:y:2007:i:1:p:21-44
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622905

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  1. Marcy Burchfield & Henry G. Overman & Diego Puga & Matthew A. Turner, 2005. "Causes of sprawl: A portrait from space," Working Papers tecipa-192, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. Berliant, Marcus & Fujita, Masahisa, 1992. "Alonso's Discrete Population Model of Land Use: Efficient Allocations and Competitive Equilibria," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 535-66, August.
  3. Berliant, Marcus & Konishi, Hideo, 2000. "The endogenous formation of a city: population agglomeration and marketplaces in a location-specific production economy," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 289-324, May.
  4. Giles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2003. "Micro-Foundations of Urban Agglomeration Economies," NBER Working Papers 9931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Brueckner, Jan K., 1987. "The structure of urban equilibria: A unified treatment of the muth-mills model," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 821-845 Elsevier.
  6. Harrison, David Jr. & Kain, John F., 1974. "Cumulative urban growth and urban density functions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 61-98, January.
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