IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Toward a New Urban Cycle? A Closer Look to Sprawl, Demographic Transitions and the Environment in Europe


  • Daniela Smiraglia

    (Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Via Vitaliano Brancati 48, I-00144 Rome, Italy)

  • Luca Salvati

    (Department of Economics and Law, University of Macerata, Via Armaroli 43, I-62100 Macerata, Italy)

  • Gianluca Egidi

    (Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), Tuscia University, Via San Camillo de Lellis, I-01100 Viterbo, Italy)

  • Rosanna Salvia

    (Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics, University of Basilicata, Via dell’Ateneo Lucano 10, I-85100 Potenza, Italy)

  • Antonio Giménez-Morera

    (Departamento de Economia y Ciencias Sociales, Universitat Politècnica de València, Cami de Vera S/N, ES-46022 València, Spain)

  • Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir

    (Department of Overland Communication Ways, Foundation and Cadastral Survey, Politehnica University of Timisoara, 1A I. Curea Street, 300224 Timisoara, Romania)


Urban growth is a largely debated issue in social science. Specific forms of metropolitan expansion—including sprawl—involve multiple and fascinating research dimensions, making mixed (quali-quantitative) analysis of this phenomenon particularly complex and challenging at the same time. Urban sprawl has attracting the attention of multidisciplinary studies defining nature, dynamics, and consequences that dispersed low-density settlements are having on biophysical and socioeconomic contexts worldwide. The present commentary provides a brief overview on nature and implications of the latent relationship between sprawl, demographic dynamics, and background socio-environmental contexts with special focus on Europe. Empirical evidence supports the idea that spatial planning should cope more effectively with the increasing environmental and socioeconomic exposure of European regions to sprawl and demographic transitions, being progressively far away from a traditional urban cycle with sequential waves of urbanization, suburbanization, counter-urbanization, and re-urbanization. Growing socio-ecological vulnerability of metropolitan regions was evaluated based on a literature review demonstrating how a better comprehension of the intimate linkage between long-term demographic dynamics and urban cycles is necessary to inform fine-tuned policies controlling sprawl and promoting a sustainable management of peri-urban land.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniela Smiraglia & Luca Salvati & Gianluca Egidi & Rosanna Salvia & Antonio Giménez-Morera & Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir, 2021. "Toward a New Urban Cycle? A Closer Look to Sprawl, Demographic Transitions and the Environment in Europe," Land, MDPI, vol. 10(2), pages 1-14, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:10:y:2021:i:2:p:127-:d:488745

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fleisher, Belton & Li, Haizheng & Zhao, Min Qiang, 2010. "Human capital, economic growth, and regional inequality in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 215-231, July.
    2. Luisa Rosti & Chikara Yamaguchi & Carolina Castagnetti, 2005. "Educational Performance as Signalling Device: Evidence from Italy," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 9(4), pages 1-7.
    3. Mariateresa Ciommi & Francesco M. Chelli & Margherita Carlucci & Luca Salvati, 2018. "Urban Growth and Demographic Dynamics in Southern Europe: Toward a New Statistical Approach to Regional Science," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(8), pages 1-16, August.
    4. Chiara Gigliarano & Francesco Chelli, 2016. "Measuring inter-temporal intragenerational mobility: an application to the Italian labour market," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 89-102, January.
    5. Luca Salvati & Margherita Carlucci & Efstathios Grigoriadis & Francesco Maria Chelli, 2018. "Uneven dispersion or adaptive polycentrism? Urban expansion, population dynamics and employment growth in an ‘ordinary’ city," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 38(1), pages 1-25, February.
    6. Marais, Lochner & Denoon-Stevens, Stuart & Cloete, Jan, 2020. "Mining towns and urban sprawl in South Africa," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
    7. Ron Lesthaeghe, 2010. "The Unfolding Story of the Second Demographic Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(2), pages 211-251, June.
    8. Camagni, Roberto & Capello, Roberta & Nijkamp, Peter, 1998. "Towards sustainable city policy: an economy-environment technology nexus," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 103-118, January.
    9. Salvati, Luca & Ciommi, Maria Teresa & Serra, Pere & Chelli, Francesco M., 2019. "Exploring the spatial structure of housing prices under economic expansion and stagnation: The role of socio-demographic factors in metropolitan Rome, Italy," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 143-152.
    10. R. Lesthaeghe & K. Neels, 2002. "From the First to the Second Demographic Transition: An Interpretation of the Spatial Continuity of Demographic Innovation in France, Belgium and Switzerland," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 18(4), pages 325-360, December.
    11. Mariateresa Ciommi & Francesco M. Chelli & Luca Salvati, 2019. "Integrating parametric and non-parametric multivariate analysis of urban growth and commuting patterns in a European metropolitan area," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 53(2), pages 957-979, March.
    12. Luca Salvati & Vittorio Gargiulo Morelli, 2014. "Unveiling Urban Sprawl in the Mediterranean Region: Towards a Latent Urban Transformation?," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(6), pages 1935-1953, November.
    13. Simin Davoudi, 2003. "EUROPEAN BRIEFING: Polycentricity in European spatial planning: from an analytical tool to a normative agenda," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(8), pages 979-999, December.
    14. Peter Hall, 1997. "The Future of the Metropolis and its Form," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 211-220.
    15. Francesco Chelli & Chiara Gigliarano & Elvio Mattioli, 2009. "The impact of inflation on heterogeneous groups of households: an application to italy," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(2), pages 1276-1295.
    16. Christian Longhi & Antonio Musolesi, 2007. "European cities in the process of economic integration: towards structural convergence," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 41(2), pages 333-351, June.
    17. Michael Getzner & Justin Kadi, 2020. "Determinants of land consumption in Austria and the effects of spatial planning regulations," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(6), pages 1095-1117, June.
    18. Paolo Veneri & David Burgalassi, 2011. "Questioning Polycentric Development and its Effects. Issues of Definition and Measurement for the Italian NUTS-2 Regions," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(6), pages 1017-1037, January.
    19. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:9:y:2005:i:4:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Michael P Johnson, 2001. "Environmental Impacts of Urban Sprawl: A Survey of the Literature and Proposed Research Agenda," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 33(4), pages 717-735, April.
    21. Mariateresa Ciommi & Andrea Gentili & Barbara Ermini & Chiara Gigliarano & Francesco M. Chelli & Mauro Gallegati, 2017. "Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: The Well-Being of the Italians (1861–2011)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 134(2), pages 473-509, November.
    22. Francesco Chelli & Luisa Rosti, 2009. "Self employment among Italian female graduates," Quaderni di Dipartimento 090, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods.
    23. Peter Nijkamp & Karima Kourtit, 2013. "The “New Urban Europe”: Global Challenges and Local Responses in the Urban Century," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 291-315, March.
    24. Ronald D. Lee & David S. Reher, 2011. "Introduction: The Landscape of Demographic Transition and Its Aftermath," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 1-7, January.
    25. Moroni, Stefano & Minola, Luca, 2019. "Unnatural sprawl: Reconsidering public responsibility for suburban development in Italy, and the desirability and possibility of changing the rules of the game," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 104-112.
    26. Ronald Lee & Andrew Mason, 2010. "Fertility, Human Capital, and Economic Growth over the Demographic Transition [Fécondité, capital humain et croissance économique au cours de la transition démographique]," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 26(2), pages 159-182, May.
    27. Luca Salvati & Margherita Carlucci, 2016. "Patterns of Sprawl: The Socioeconomic and Territorial Profile of Dispersed Urban Areas in Italy," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(8), pages 1346-1359, August.
    28. Giuseppe Ricciardo Lamonica & Francesco Maria Chelli, 2018. "The performance of non‐survey techniques for constructing sub‐territorial input‐output tables," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 1169-1202, November.
    29. Francesco CHELLI & Chiara GIGLIARANO & Elvio MATTIOLI, 2009. "The Impact of Inflation on Heterogeneous Groups of Households: an Application to Italy," Working Papers 329, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    30. Wang, Xiaoxiao & Shi, Ruiting & Zhou, Ying, 2020. "Dynamics of urban sprawl and sustainable development in China," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    31. Matthew E. Kahn, 2000. "The environmental impact of suburbanization," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 569-586.
    32. Turner, Katrine Grace & Anderson, Sharolyn & Gonzales-Chang, Mauricio & Costanza, Robert & Courville, Sasha & Dalgaard, Tommy & Dominati, Estelle & Kubiszewski, Ida & Ogilvy, Sue & Porfirio, Luciana &, 2016. "A review of methods, data, and models to assess changes in the value of ecosystem services from land degradation and restoration," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 319(C), pages 190-207.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Francesca Bartolacci & Rosanna Salvia & Giovanni Quaranta & Luca Salvati, 2022. "Seeking the Optimal Dimension of Local Administrative Units: A Reflection on Urban Concentration and Changes in Municipal Size," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(22), pages 1-17, November.
    2. Gianluca Egidi & Luca Salvati & Andrea Falcone & Giovanni Quaranta & Rosanna Salvia & Renata Vcelakova & Antonio Giménez-Morera, 2021. "Re-Framing the Latent Nexus between Land-Use Change, Urbanization and Demographic Transitions in Advanced Economies," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(2), pages 1-17, January.
    3. Samaneh Sadat Nickayin & Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir & Matteo Clemente & Francesco Maria Chelli & Luca Salvati & Federico Benassi & Antonio Gimenez Morera, 2020. "“Qualifying Peripheries” or “Repolarizing the Center”: A Comparison of Gentrification Processes in Europe," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(21), pages 1-14, October.
    4. Gianluca Egidi & Giovanni Quaranta & Luca Salvati & Rosanna Salvia & Gimenez Morera Antonio, 2021. "Investigating density-dependent patterns of population growth in Southern Italy, 1861–2019," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 11-30, April.
    5. Jesús Rodrigo-Comino & Gianluca Egidi & Adele Sateriano & Stefano Poponi & Enrico Maria Mosconi & Antonio Gimenez Morera, 2021. "Suburban Fertility and Metropolitan Cycles: Insights from European Cities," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(4), pages 1-14, February.
    6. Jesus Rodrigo-Comino & Gianluca Egidi & Luca Salvati & Giovanni Quaranta & Rosanna Salvia & Antonio Gimenez-Morera, 2021. "High-to-Low (Regional) Fertility Transitions in a Peripheral European Country: The Contribution of Exploratory Time Series Analysis," Data, MDPI, vol. 6(2), pages 1-14, February.
    7. Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir & Gianluca Egidi & Rosanna Salvia & Luca Salvati & Adele Sateriano & Antonio Gimenez-Morera, 2021. "Recession, Local Fertility, and Urban Sustainability: Results of a Quasi-Experiment in Greece, 1991–2018," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(3), pages 1-18, January.
    8. Gianluca Egidi & Giovanni Quaranta & Luca Salvati & Filippo Gambella & Enrico Maria Mosconi & Antonio Giménez Morera & Andrea Colantoni, 2020. "Unraveling Causes and Consequences of International Retirement Migration to Coastal and Rural Areas in Mediterranean Europe," Land, MDPI, vol. 9(11), pages 1-15, October.
    9. Kostas Rontos & Andrea Colantoni & Luca Salvati & Enrico Maria Mosconi & Antonio Giménez Morera, 2020. "Resident or Present? Population Census Data Tell You More about Suburbanization," Land, MDPI, vol. 9(10), pages 1-13, October.
    10. Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir & Daniela Smiraglia & Giovanni Quaranta & Rosanna Salvia & Luca Salvati & Antonio Giménez-Morera, 2020. "Land Degradation and Mitigation Policies in the Mediterranean Region: A Brief Commentary," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(20), pages 1-17, October.
    11. Rosanna Salvia & Gianluca Egidi & Luca Salvati & Jesús Rodrigo-Comino & Giovanni Quaranta, 2020. "In-Between ‘Smart’ Urban Growth and ‘Sluggish’ Rural Development? Reframing Population Dynamics in Greece, 1940–2019," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(15), pages 1-18, July.
    12. Vinci, Sabato & Bartolacci, Francesca & Salvia, Rosanna & Salvati, Luca, 2022. "Housing markets, the great crisis, and metropolitan gradients: Insights from Greece, 2000–2014," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    13. Alessia D’Agata & Giovanni Quaranta & Rosanna Salvia & Margherita Carlucci & Luca Salvati, 2023. "Mixed Land Use as an Intrinsic Feature of Sprawl: A Short-Term Analysis of Settlement Growth and Population Distribution Using European Urban Atlas," Land, MDPI, vol. 12(5), pages 1-21, April.
    14. Samaneh Sadat Nickayin & Antonio Tomao & Giovanni Quaranta & Luca Salvati & Antonio Gimenez Morera, 2020. "Going toward Resilience? Town Planning, Peri-Urban Landscapes, and the Expansion of Athens, Greece," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(24), pages 1-18, December.
    15. Luca Salvati, 2022. "Exploring long-term urban cycles with multivariate time-series analysis," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 49(4), pages 1212-1227, May.
    16. Rosanna Salvia & Rares Halbac-Cotoara-Zamfir & Sirio Cividino & Luca Salvati & Giovanni Quaranta, 2020. "From Rural Spaces to Peri-Urban Districts: Metropolitan Growth, Sparse Settlements and Demographic Dynamics in a Mediterranean Region," Land, MDPI, vol. 9(6), pages 1-20, June.
    17. Enrico Maria Mosconi & Andrea Colantoni & Filippo Gambella & Eva Cudlinová & Luca Salvati & Jesús Rodrigo-Comino, 2020. "Revisiting the Environmental Kuznets Curve: The Spatial Interaction between Economy and Territory," Economies, MDPI, vol. 8(3), pages 1-20, September.
    18. Gianluca Egidi & Sirio Cividino & Sabato Vinci & Adele Sateriano & Rosanna Salvia, 2020. "Towards Local Forms of Sprawl: A Brief Reflection on Mediterranean Urbanization," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(2), pages 1-16, January.
    19. Luca Salvati, 2022. "Endogenous Population Dynamics and Metropolitan Cycles: Long-Term Evidence from Athens, an Eternally Mediterranean City," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 38(5), pages 835-860, December.
    20. Filippo Gambella & Giovanni Quaranta & Nathan Morrow & Renata Vcelakova & Luca Salvati & Antonio Gimenez Morera & Jesús Rodrigo-Comino, 2021. "Soil Degradation and Socioeconomic Systems’ Complexity: Uncovering the Latent Nexus," Land, MDPI, vol. 10(1), pages 1-13, January.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:10:y:2021:i:2:p:127-:d:488745. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: MDPI Indexing Manager (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.