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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. 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.
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  5. Giuliano, Genevieve & Small, Kenneth A., 1991. "Subcenters in the Los Angeles Region," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt7xv976dj, University of California Transportation Center.
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  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2001. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1931, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. 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.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2002. "The Benefits of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction," NBER Working Papers 9284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. 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.
  12. Jaffe, A.B. & Trajtenberg, M., 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," Papers 14-92, Tel Aviv.
  13. 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.
  14. Raphael, Steven & Stoll, Michael, 2001. "Can Boosting Minority Car-Ownership Rates Narrow Inter-Racial Employment Gaps?," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt4k4519pw, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  15. Edward L. Glaeser & David C. Mare, 1994. "Cities and Skills," NBER Working Papers 4728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Anas, Alex & Arnott, Richard & Small, Kenneth A., 1997. "Urban Spatial Structure," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt835049q3, University of California Transportation Center.
  17. Ciccone, Antonio & Hall, Robert E, 1996. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 54-70, March.
  18. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "The Social Consequences of Housing," NBER Working Papers 8034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. Katz, Lawrence & Rosen, Kenneth T, 1987. "The Interjurisdictional Effects of Growth Controls on Housing Prices," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 149-60, April.
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  22. 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.
  23. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 1997. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," NBER Working Papers 5881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Brueckner, J.K. & Thisse, J.-F. & Zenou, Y., 1996. "Why is central Paris rich and downtown Detroit poor ? An amenity-based theory," CORE Discussion Papers 1996065, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  25. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do the Poor Live in Cities?," NBER Working Papers 7636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  27. 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.
  28. J. Vernon Henderson & Ari Kuncoro & Matthew Turner, 1992. "Industrial Development in Cities," NBER Working Papers 4178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Edward L. Glaeser & Jed Kolko & Albert Saiz, 2000. "Consumer City," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1901, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  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. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. Edwin S. Mills & Luan Sende Lubuele, 1997. "Inner Cities," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 727-756, June.
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