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Sprawl and Urban Growth

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Matthew E. Kahn

Cities can be thought of as the absence of physical space between people and firms. As such, they exist to eliminate transportation costs for goods, people and ideas and transportation technologies dictate urban form. In the 21st century, the dominant form of city living is based on the automobile and this form is sometimes called sprawl. In this essay, we document that sprawl is ubiquitous and that it is continuing to expand. Using a variety of evidence, we argue that sprawl is not the result of explicit government policies or bad urban planning, but rather the inexorable product of car-based living. Sprawl has been associated with significant improvements in quality of living, and the environmental impacts of sprawl have been offset by technological change. Finally, we suggest that the primary social problem associated with sprawl is the fact that some people are left behind because they do not earn enough to afford the cars that this form of living requires.

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File URL: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/pub/hier/2003/HIER2004.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2004.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2004
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why is There More Crime in Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1746, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Brueckner, Jan K., 1979. "A model of non-central production in a monocentric city," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 444-463, October.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Jed Kolko & Albert Saiz, 2000. "Consumer City," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1901, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Alex Anas & Richard Arnott & Kenneth A. Small, 1998. "Urban Spatial Structure," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1426-1464, September.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001. "Decentralized Employment and the Transformation of the American City," NBER Working Papers 8117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel & Henderson, Rebecca, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-98, August.
  8. Edwin S. Mills & Luan Sende Lubuele, 1997. "Inner Cities," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 727-756, June.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
  10. Julie Berry Cullen & Steven D. Levitt, 1999. "Crime, Urban Flight, And The Consequences For Cities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 159-169, May.
  11. Small, Kenneth A. & Gomez-Ilbanez, Jose A., 1998. "Road Pricing for Congestion Management: The Transition from Theory to Policy," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt8kk909p1, University of California Transportation Center.
  12. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 455-506, June.
  13. Mieszkowski, Peter & Smith, Barton, 1991. "Analyzing urban decentralization : The case of Houston," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 183-199, July.
  14. McMillen, Daniel P. & McDonald, John F., 1998. "Suburban Subcenters and Employment Density in Metropolitan Chicago," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 157-180, March.
  15. Katz, Lawrence F. & Rosen, Kenneth T., 1987. "The Interjurisdictional Effects of Growth Controls on Housing Prices," Scholarly Articles 3442758, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-50, July.
  17. Brueckner, Jan K & Fansler, David A, 1983. "The Economics of Urban Sprawl: Theory and Evidence on the Spatial Sizes of Cities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 479-82, August.
  18. Robert E. Lucas & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2002. "On the Internal Structure of Cities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1445-1476, July.
  19. Margo, Robert A., 1992. "Explaining the postwar suburbanization of population in the United States: The role of income," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 301-310, May.
  20. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Government," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  21. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do The Poor Live In Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1891, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  22. Steven Raphael & Michael A. Stoll, 2000. "Can Boosting Minority Car-Ownership Rates Narrow Inter-Racial Employment Gaps," JCPR Working Papers 200, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  23. Baum-Snow, Nathaniel & Kahn, Matthew E., 2000. "The effects of new public projects to expand urban rail transit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 241-263, August.
  24. Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "The Benefits of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17, pages 37-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Giuliano, Genevieve & Small, Kenneth A., 1991. "Subcenters in the Los Angeles Region," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt6ts0t95w, University of California Transportation Center.
  26. Matthew E. Kahn, 1996. "New Evidence on Trends in Vehicle Emissions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 183-196, Spring.
  27. Glaeser, Edward L. & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2000. "The Social Consequences of Housing," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1-2), pages 1-23, March.
  28. McDonald, John F. & McMillen, Daniel P., 2000. "Employment Subcenters and Subsequent Real Estate Development in Suburban Chicago," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 135-157, July.
  29. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1995. "Productivity and the density of economic activity," Economics Working Papers 120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  30. Brueckner, Jan K., 1983. "Central-city income redistribution and the flight to the suburbs : A stylized model," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 177-193, May.
  31. J. Vernon Henderson & Ari Kuncoro & Matthew Turner, 1992. "Industrial Development in Cities," NBER Working Papers 4178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Edward L. Glaeser & David C. Mare, 1994. "Cities and Skills," NBER Working Papers 4728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Calfee, John & Winston, Clifford, 1998. "The value of automobile travel time: implications for congestion policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 83-102, July.
  34. Brueckner, Jan K. & Thisse, Jacques-Francois & Zenou, Yves, 1999. "Why is central Paris rich and downtown Detroit poor?: An amenity-based theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 91-107, January.
  35. 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.
  36. Richard Voith, 1999. "Does the federal tax treatment of housing affect the pattern of metropolitan development?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Mar, pages 3-16.
  37. Henderson, Vernon & Mitra, Arindam, 1996. "The new urban landscape: Developers and edge cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 613-643, December.
  38. Edward L. Glaeser & Jessse M. Shapiro, 2002. "The Benefits of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1979, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  39. Jan K. Brueckner, 2000. "Urban Sprawl: Diagnosis and Remedies," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 23(2), pages 160-171, April.
  40. Gin, Alan & Sonstelie, Jon, 1992. "The streetcar and residential location in nineteenth century Philadelphia," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 92-107, July.
  41. 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.
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