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Causes of Urban Sprawl in the United States: Auto reliance as compared to natural evolution, flight from blight, and local revenue reliance

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  • Robert W. Wassmer

    (California State University, Sacramento)

Abstract

This paper describes a statistical study of the contribution of theories previously offered by economists to explain differences in the degree of urban decentralization in the U.S. The focus is on a relative comparison of the influence of auto reliance. A regression analysis reveals that a 10 percent reduction in the percentage of households owning one or more autos would reduce the square mile size of an urban area by only 0.5 percent and raise its population density by only 0.7 percent. Factors falling under the categories of “natural evolution” and “flight from blight” exert a far greater magnitude of influence. For instance, a 10 percent reduction in per capita income would reduce the square mile size of an urban area by 11.4 percent and raise its population density by 10.1 percent, while a 10 percent decrease in the percentage central place(s) population poor would reduce the square mile size of an urban area by 2.6 percent and raise its population density by 1.7 percent. A significant increase in urban decentralization will require more than just reduced auto reliance. © 2008 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Wassmer, 2008. "Causes of Urban Sprawl in the United States: Auto reliance as compared to natural evolution, flight from blight, and local revenue reliance," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(3), pages 536-555.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:27:y:2008:i:3:p:536-555
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20355
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
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    3. Robert W. Wassmer, 2006. "The Influence of Local Urban Containment Policies and Statewide Growth Management on the Size of United States Urban Areas," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 25-65.
    4. Brueckner, Jan K & Kim, Hyun-A, 2003. "Urban Sprawl and the Property Tax," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(1), pages 5-23, January.
    5. Peter Mieszkowski & Edwin S. Mills, 1993. "The Causes of Metropolitan Suburbanization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 135-147, Summer.
    6. Paul G. Lewis, 2001. "Retail Politics: Local Sales Taxes and the Fiscalization of Land Use," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 15(1), pages 21-35, February.
    7. Robert W. Wassmer, 2002. "Fiscalisation of Land Use, Urban Growth Boundaries and Non-central Retail Sprawl in the Western United States," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 39(8), pages 1307-1327, July.
    8. Michael P. Murray, 2006. "Avoiding Invalid Instruments and Coping with Weak Instruments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 111-132, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barbara Weilenmann & Tobias Schulz, 2014. "Socio-economic explanation of urban sprawl: Evidence from Switzerland, 1970-2010," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1188, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Gautier, Pieter A. & Zenou, Yves, 2010. "Car ownership and the labor market of ethnic minorities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 392-403, May.
    3. Langer, Sebastian & Korzhenevych, Artem, 2017. "The effect of land consumption on municipal tax revenue: Evidence from Bavaria," CEPIE Working Papers 18/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    4. 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.
    5. Miriam Hortas-Rico, 2015. "Sprawl, Blight, And The Role Of Urban Containment Policies: Evidence From U.S. Cities," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 298-323, March.
    6. repec:eee:retrec:v:60:y:2016:i:c:p:25-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Pam Guiling & B. Wade Brorsen & Damona Doye, 2009. "Effect of Urban Proximity on Agricultural Land Values," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(2), pages 252-264.
    8. Cheung, Ron & Cunningham, Chris, 2011. "Who supports portable assessment caps: The role of lock-in, mobility and tax share," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 173-186, May.
    9. Miguel Gómez-Antonio & Miriam Hortas-Rico & Linna Li, 2016. "The Causes of Urban Sprawl in Spanish Urban Areas: A Spatial Approach," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 219-247, June.

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