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The causes of urban sprawl in Spanish urban areas: a spatial approach

Listed author(s):
  • Miguel Gómez-Antonio
  • Miriam Hortas-Rico
  • Linna Li

WThis paper explores the role of interjurisdictional competition among local governments in fostering urban sprawl. The structure of local public finance along with housing and land-use policies make land a valuable commodity the supply of which is monopolised by local governments. This situation creates economic incentives for local governments (in terms of higher income and tax revenues) to influence development patterns and even engage in strategic interaction with neighbouring jurisdictions to compete for the creation of new residential areas. We empirically assess the presence of local spatial interaction in urban sprawl in Spanish urban areas. Thanks to the recent availability of a novel data set based on remotely sensed data from aerial photography and satellite imaging, we have been able to study urban development patterns across the country with unprecedented detail. We make use of GIS techniques to calculate a sprawl measure as the dependent variable and compile a database of independent variables on land use and topographic features, complemented with additional information on weather conditions, social, demographic, political and economic variables, which are then used in a spatial regression model. The results confirm our main hypothesis: there exists spatial interaction in the levels of sprawl between neighbouring municipalities, suggesting that local governments do indeed compete for the creation of new suburban settlement developments, hence promoting excessive urban sprawl.

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File URL: http://infogen.webs.uvigo.es/WPB/WP1402.pdf
File Function: First version, 2014
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Paper provided by Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network in its series Working Papers. Collection B: Regional and sectoral economics with number 1402.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2014
Handle: RePEc:gov:wpregi:1402
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