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Social interaction and urban sprawl

  • Brueckner, Jan K.
  • Largey, Ann G.

Various authors, most notably Putnam [Putnam, R.D., 2000. Bowling Alone. Simon and Schuster, New York], have argued that low-density living reduces social capital and thus social interaction, and this argument has been used to buttress criticisms of urban sprawl. If low densities in fact reduce social interaction, then an externality arises, validating Putnam's critique. In choosing their own lot sizes, consumers would fail to consider the loss of interaction benefits for their neighbors when lot size is increased. Lot sizes would then be inefficiently large, and cities excessively spread out. The paper tests the premise of this argument (the existence of a positive link between interaction and density) using data from the Social Capital Benchmark Survey. In the empirical work, social interaction measures for individual survey respondents are regressed on census-tract density and a host of household characteristics, using an instrumental-variable approach to control for the potential endogeneity of density.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 64 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 18-34

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:64:y:2008:i:1:p:18-34
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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.
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  5. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "The Long-Run Consequences of Living in a Poor Neighborhood," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt9np9p7m5, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
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  8. Jan K. Brueckner, 2005. "Urban Growth Boundaries: An Effective Second-Best Remedy for Unpriced Traffic Congestion?," Working Papers 050610, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  9. Daniel Aaronson, 1998. "Using Sibling Data to Estimate the Impact of Neighborhoods on Children's Educational Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 915-946.
  10. DiPasquale, Denise & Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 354-384, March.
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  12. Ed Glaeser & Jed Kolko & Albert Saiz, 2000. "Consumer City," NBER Working Papers 7790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Thomas J. Nechyba & Randall P. Walsh, 2004. "Urban Sprawl," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 177-200, Fall.
  14. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 1997. "Urban Growth," NBER Working Papers 6008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Eid, Jean & Overman, Henry G & Puga, Diego & Turner, Matthew A, 2007. "Fat City: Questioning the Relationship Between Urban Sprawl and Obesity," CEPR Discussion Papers 6191, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Rainald Borck, 2005. "Social Agglomeration Externalities," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 505, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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