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Pioneers of Rural Sprawl in the Rocky Mountain West


  • Weiler, Stephan

    (Center for the Study of Rural America, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)

  • Theobald, David

    (CO State U)


Urban sprawl has been criticized for its disproportionate impact on the environment. Yet urban areas are in fact less land-intensive than recent rural development patterns. Residential first-movers into such virgin areas may spark waves of ensuing development without incorporating the true social costs of their pioneering. This paper first explores both benefit/cost and game-theoretic frameworks for understanding the private strategies and social implications of such pioneer developments. Evidence regarding regional land-use intensities, path-dependence of rural development, and accumulating social costs of rural sprawl are then presented to highlight the relevance of this paper's theoretical perspective in the Rocky Mountain West. The primary conclusion of the combined theoretical and empirical work is that pioneering development in innovative rural locations is likely relative to the social optimum, suggesting a rationale for public policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Weiler, Stephan & Theobald, David, 2003. "Pioneers of Rural Sprawl in the Rocky Mountain West," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 33(3), pages 264-283.
  • Handle: RePEc:rre:publsh:v:33:y:2003:i:3:p:264-83

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Harsanyi, 1968. "Games with Incomplete Information Played by "Bayesian" Players Part II. Bayesian Equilibrium Points," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(5), pages 320-334, January.
    2. Stephan Weiler, 2000. "Pioneers and Settlers in Lo-Do Denver: Private Risk and Public Benefits in Urban Redevelopment," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 37(1), pages 167-179, January.
    3. R White & G Engelen, 1993. "Cellular automata and fractal urban form: a cellular modelling approach to the evolution of urban land-use patterns," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 25(8), pages 1175-1199, August.
    4. J Landis & M Zhang, 1998. "The second generation of the California urban futures model. Part 1: Model logic and theory," Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 25(5), pages 657-666, September.
    5. Jan K. Brueckner, 2000. "Urban Sprawl: Diagnosis and Remedies," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 23(2), pages 160-171, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman, 2012. "Integrating Regional Economic Development Analysis and Land Use Economics," Economics Working Paper Series 1203, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    2. Zahran, Sammy & Weiler, Stephan & Brody, Samuel D. & Lindell, Michael K. & Highfield, Wesley E., 2009. "Modeling national flood insurance policy holding at the county scale in Florida, 1999-2005," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2627-2636, August.

    More about this item


    Land Use; Regional Land Use; Regional; Rural; Sprawl; Urban;

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy


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