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Can the land tax help curb urban sprawl? Evidence from growth patterns in Pennsylvania

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  • Banzhaf, H. Spencer
  • Lavery, Nathan

Abstract

Urban sprawl has become a policy concern of national prominence. One tool that has been suggested for combating sprawl is the land or split-rate tax. In theory, such taxes can raise the ratio of housing capital to land. This in turn can raise the density of housing units where it is applied, if the average size of housing units does not increase enough to offset an effect on the number of housing units. This research explores these issues, looking at a panel of land uses and demographics in Pennsylvania. We confirm the theoretical prediction that the split-rate tax raises the capital/land ratio. We also find that the primary effect is in more housing units, rather than bigger units, suggesting the split-rate tax is potentially a powerful anti-sprawl tool. We find adoption of the split-rate tax increases the number of housing units, and that these units follow a more dense pattern of development.

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  • Banzhaf, H. Spencer & Lavery, Nathan, 2010. "Can the land tax help curb urban sprawl? Evidence from growth patterns in Pennsylvania," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 169-179, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:67:y:2010:i:2:p:169-179
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    3. David Albouy & Andrew Hanson, 2014. "Tax Benefits to Housing and Inefficiencies in Location and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 19815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kalkuhl, Matthias & Fernandez Milan, Blanca & Schwerhoff, Gregor & Jakob, Michael & Hahnen, Maren & Creutzig, Felix, 2017. "Fiscal Instruments for Sustainable Development: The Case of Land Taxes," MPRA Paper 78652, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Miriam Hortas-Rico, 2014. "Urban sprawl and municipal budgets in Spain: A dynamic panel data analysis," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 843-864, November.
    6. Matthias Kalkuhl & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2017. "Ramsey meets Thünen: the impact of land taxes on economic development and land conservation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(2), pages 350-380, April.
    7. Ermini, Barbara & Santolini, Raffaella, 2015. "Differentiated property tax and urban sprawl in Italian urbanized areas," MPRA Paper 65460, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Bento, Antonio M. & Franco, Sofia F. & Kaffine, Daniel, 2011. "Welfare Effects of Anti-Sprawl Policies in the Presence of Urban Decline," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(3), pages 439-450, December.
    9. Yang, Zhou, 2018. "Differential effects of land value taxation," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 33-39.
    10. Bartolini, David & Ninka, Eniel & Santolini, Raffaella, 2017. "Tax Decentralisation, Labour productivity and Employment," MPRA Paper 81070, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Mendonça, Rita & Roebeling, Peter & Martins, Filomena & Fidélis, Teresa & Teotónio, Carla & Alves, Henrique & Rocha, João, 2020. "Assessing economic instruments to steer urban residential sprawl, using a hedonic pricing simulation modelling approach," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).
    12. Gregor Schwerhoff & Ottmar Edenhofer & Marc Fleurbaey, 2020. "Taxation Of Economic Rents," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 398-423, April.
    13. Nicolai V. Kuminoff & Jaren C. Pope, 2013. "The Value of Residential Land and Structures during the Great Housing Boom and Bust," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 89(1), pages 1-29.
    14. Kalkuhl, Matthias & Fernandez Milan, Blanca & Schwerhoff, Gregor & Jakob, Michael & Hahnen, Maren & Creutzig, Felix, 2018. "Can land taxes foster sustainable development? An assessment of fiscal, distributional and implementation issues," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 338-352.
    15. Doris Prammer, 2020. "Immovable property: where, why and how should it be taxed? A review of the literature and its implementation in Europe," Public Sector Economics, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 44(4), pages 483-504.
    16. Barbara Ermini & Raffaella Santolini, 2017. "Urban sprawl and property tax of a city’s core and suburbs: evidence from Italy," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(9), pages 1374-1386, September.
    17. Bento, Antonio M. & Franco, Sofia F. & Kaffine, Daniel, 2011. "Is there a double-dividend from anti-sprawl policies?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 135-152, March.
    18. McMillan, Melville L., 2018. "“Causes of Sprawl”: A (Further) Public Finance Extension," Working Papers 2018-4, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    19. Floater, Graham & Rode, Philipp & Friedel, Bruno & Robert, Alexis, 2014. "Steering urban growth: governance, policy and finance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60776, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    20. Achim Ahrens & Seán Lyons, 2019. "Changes in Land Cover and Urban Sprawl in Ireland From a Comparative Perspective Over 1990–2012," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(1), pages 1-14, January.
    21. Chen, Yong, 2020. "Effects of development tax on leapfrog sprawl in a thinly traded land market," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).

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